Debate balance: success & “awesome”


Madeline Fisher

Head of Debate, Tom Fones, teaches one of his many debate classes this semester.

Maddy Fisher, Staff Writer

SPA’s debate team is continuing to maintain its standard of excellence—currently ranked second in the state, the team consists of 96 members, 44 of them beginning debaters.

This year’s achievements live up to the program’s reputation. Liam Will and Zach Dyar are the first SPA debate team in 24 years to pre-qualify for the National Debate Tournament. In a recent tournament attended by 42 schools, SPA held three of the top five places. Additionally, the team is also experimenting more with congressional debate (which tends to focus on debating legislation) than in previous years.

However, Director of Debate Tom Fones said he chooses to focus on other aspects of the team. “We’re doing well, competitively, but I never want to lose sight of people having fun and people learning things.”

The students participating in the class appear to agree with this philosophy. “I really like it a lot. Mr. Fones is awesome,” said ninth grader Cooper Bollinger-Danielson.

Regarding the benefits of participating in debate, sophomore Sophie Cullen said, “You really get to know both sides of an argument, whether you’re in favor of it or whether you’re not; which I think is really important, in current society, to be willing to be open-minded and understand where people are coming from when they have a specific point of view. I like that about debate because I’ve really gotten understood a wide range of topics and different points of view from different people.”

I think that the success of this program is a tribute primarily to the students.

— Tom Fones

Despite the many achievements of the team, Fones said the credit should be paid to the students. “I think that the success of this program is a tribute primarily to the students. I think I get credit for it and I don’t think I always deserve it.”

Upcoming events include a national invitational tournament in Apple Valley in November and the national qualifier, which is being hosted at SPA in December.