Pandemic forces Debate Club changes

The virtual environment leads to changes being made in the club

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Given these unprecedented times, many clubs, such as the Debate team, have been forced to take preventative actions to ensure the safety of all individuals. Because of this, the Debate Club, led by history teacher Mrs. Jessica Friday, has been forced through a barrage of changes that eliminated any semblance of normalcy.

The Debate Club currently meets every Thursday during the evening. They used to meet Tuesdays in the morning, but due to COVID-19 mitigation, they were not allowed the opportunity to meet before school. They compete in the Lehigh Valley Interscholastic Debate Association. Kutztown, Pennridge, Wilson, and Catasauqua also compete in the same division.

In the past, the Debate Club traveled from school to school and performed two debates per school, and had the added bonus of getting breakfast as a treat. With the virtual environment, the debate season has changed drastically.

“We are now doing debates virtually,” stated senior Abigail Manbeck. “Some debate veterans decided not to do debate this year, because of COVID-19 and other obligations. We also only have one topic this year, and one round of debates for a specific calendar day.”

This year, the debate topic is whether the Supreme Court Justices should have term limits. Previously, they have taken on topics such as the National Organ Transplant Act, the Electoral College, and the death penalty moratorium.

Despite the new online format, Manbeck said that the season has been going quite well. “Everyone is doing so good and is pretty prepared. The first-time debaters are doing a wonderful job for their first time. Currently, our negative team has won twice. Once against Palisades and once against Pennridge.”

Even though this season is so drastically different, some members are enjoying the flexibility of the online format.

“It has definitely been different in debate this season, but the coaches and judges have been super accommodating so myself and the other debaters can still debate,” stated sophomore Clarissa Phillips. “While it’s not perfect and unlike our normal debates in so many ways, it is much appreciated that we get the chance to do so at all, even though our scores do not count this year.”

Thanks to hours upon hours of work by Friday, who balances her personal life, top-tier history classes, and extracurriculars on a daily basis, the Debate Club will not miss out on this significant learning opportunity. Humble as she is, Friday wants to express how pleased she is with the students’ cooperation with this unprecedented season.

“Although no one in the debate league will be winning any trophies this year, I’m very happy that we were able to manage an abbreviated, unusual debate season. I’m so proud of the Saucon Valley debaters who patiently weathered storms, time and date changes, and last-minute cancellations to pull off a very successful season!” stated Friday.