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The CMHS library will never be as silent as it was the week of December 17th. The atmosphere was intense. The sound of scratching pencils filled the air and thumping heartbeats filled the ears of the students in Mr. Abuel's second period AP Rhetoric class. A student stands up, hands shaking and palms sweating, and walks briskly to the old wooden lectern. With a gulp and a glance to his crumpled index cards, he opens his mouth and begins to tear down an overworked argument with a simple 3 minute speech.
These skirmish debates are in preparation for the "Great Debates" the class famously participates in at the end of January. Each team was given a preliminary topic at the end of November, and has been feverishly preparing ever since. From after-school sessions with Abuel to coffee fueled, paper-strewn mornings at Barnes and Noble, teams took even these preliminary debates seriously. In a way they are, since the winners of the preliminary debate gets to decide if they go first or last during the Great Debates, a necessary advantage.
"The debates were super intense. The experience is kind of weird because I saw the debates as a freshman, and to now be debating feels surreal. And preparing for it was a lot of hard work. I have 10 zeroes in math, but my hard work did pay off!" said Jazzy Jaime.
Headed by a team captain and a sub-captain, these teams consist of five people, except for one that has four. Each team has a constructive introduction, one or two cross examiners, a rebuttal, and a conclusion.
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Starting off the debate, Sagang Wee's team faced off against Kyle Hefner's, debating "We should never be selfish." Sagang's team, consisting of sub-captain Zuleima Diaz and team members Lourdes Mendez, Laura Vaugeois, and Eric Vu, won. These teams will be debating "The individual should serve the state" vs. "The state should serve the individual" on January 22nd.
The next day, Angel Fisk's team faced off against Royce Friedmann's team, arguing "We should strive to treat everyone equally." Angel's team, consisting of sub-captain Preston Trieu and members McKenzie Soldin and Logan Whalen, won. They will be debating the famous "Man is inherently evil" vs "Man is inherently good" on January 23rd.
Next, Audrey Nguyen's team went against Abby To's team, with the topic "We should make all our choices based on facts." Audrey's team, with sub-captain Ciara Rudas and members Juan Partida, McKenna Patton, and Alex Piatti, won. This group will be debating "Virtue is more important than knowledge" vs "Knowledge is more important than virtue" on January 24th.
Closing up the debates, Amanda Moore's team headed off against Loralee Sepsey's, debating "We should never lie." Loralee's team, made up of sub-captain Jazzy Jaime and members Jocelyn Gutierrez, Hoan Nguyen, and Daniel Lawrence, won. These teams will be debating "There is no Moral Truth" vs "There is Moral Truth" on January 25th.
"The debate was pretty intense, but also very interesting. Even though it was the first serious team debate in our class, everyone debated so well. I love all of them. For my own experience, I was kinda stressed out and nervous, but after the debate, I know what I can do and how to do better," said Hoan Nguyen.