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Feature Friday: Junior Shannon Steines qualifies for national debate tournament

Kayleigh Padar

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Junior Shannon Steines has been competing on the debate team for her entire high school career. This past weekend, she, and her teammate Mady Cohodes, qualified for nationals in Speech and Debate.

“I’ve learned so much through debate. I feel like a more informed citizen. Even though I don’t necessarily want to go into government, I can definitely express my political opinions better because of debate, I feel like I can even express myself as a person better,” Steines said.

As one of the three co-captains of Debate, Steines is very dedicated to the team and spends many hours a week working on various tasks such as speech writing, research, and practicing. She also helps her teammates grow as debaters and learn new skills.

“My favorite part of debate is probably being one of the captains because I get to train all the novices in the summer and work with them all year and see them grow and win awards,” Steines said.

Each debate tournament involves different topics. The competitors discuss these as though they are bills with the potential of being passed as laws. At this past tournament, Steines’ favorite speech that she gave was about a bill that involved subsidizing hygiene products through a SNAP program, similar to food stamps.

“All the people who had spoken affirmative, or in favor of the bill, were guys. I talked about how women would still be put at a disadvantage because guys would be able to buy toothpaste, deodorant, and listerine, and women would have to spend the money on female hygiene products,” Steines said.

During tournaments, the team doesn’t have much down time, as there are only 15-30 minutes between sessions that last hours long, and that time is usually spent discussing topics with other debaters, both on the team and from other schools.

“We’re working even when we’re not working. Afterwards, we’re all so exhausted so we go over to Dairy Queen or Chili’s as an entire team just to relax,” Steines said.

Because debate at this level is based around refuting other competitor’s points, Steines’ usual process doesn’t involve pre-writing speeches. “I like to practice giving speeches beforehand. I might write down a point that I think is killer that someone might bring up, but the majority of my speeches are composed in chamber just because I really want to be responding to what other people say. So instead, I just like to get a familiar sense of the bill before the tournament,” Steines said.

Steines isn’t planning on going into government in the future, however the skills she’s learned in debate will follow her no matter what she decides to pursue in the future.

“I can communicate with others. My essay writing has improved, classes like Lang and Lit are easier. I’ve made life long friends that are just so fun to be around. I’ve learned to face adversity and to come out stronger. I’ve learned what it’s like to be a gracious loser and a humble winner, and I’ve learned so many other things as well,” Steines said.

Steines and Cohodes will head to Alabama June 18-23 to compete in the National competition.

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The Correspondent Live - The student news site of John Hersey High School
Feature Friday: Junior Shannon Steines qualifies for national debate tournament