We are at a critical point for the development and future of Sage Ridge School. As I speak, or in this case, write, the administration is deciding whether or not it will keep the debate program. As someone who based his decision to remain at Sage Ridge on the existence of debate and who has participated in debate for almost two years, I feel obligated to discuss a few reasons why we must not act rashly and abolish the Speech and Debate program.
I will begin by tooting the debate team’s horn. Over the past three years, the debate team has had successes that no other extracurricular activity at our school has matched in such a short period. Sage Ridge debaters compete against all schools, regardless of size. Nevertheless, in policy debate alone, Sage Ridge has won third at State and closed out (won first, second, and third place), the only school besides Douglas and Reno to do so in 50 years. Sage Ridge debaters have also broken into out rounds at UC Berkeley, a first for any Northern Nevada school in over a decade. A multitude of first, second, and third place finishes in Lincoln-Douglass debate and speech events accompany these success. Thus Sage Ridge has indisputably made a name for itself in the debate community throughout the West Coast.
Debate is not just an empty activity; our successes and hard work are not wasted on a pointless exercise. Debate allows students to become better able to perform in school. Debate competitions also drive the development of critical argumentation, an understanding of the political environment, and education on leading philosophical thought. Such elements enable debaters to excel in writing, class discussions, and the democratic process. In addition, debate naturally betters participants’ persuasive speaking abilities, a tool invaluable in all future pursuits, for almost all career paths require the individual to assert his or her point in an eloquent and concise manner.
Finally, debate is an activity that perfectly fits within the framework of Sage Ridge School. Sage Ridge is an environment that emphasizes the importance of academics above all else, “academics” is even one of the five pillars. At this school, we have a collection of highly driven, intellectual individuals. Thus debate perfectly meshes with the goals of the School, as it both requires an intense focus and provides competitors with an avenue to exercise their intellectual capabilities.
For these reasons, and many more not mentioned in the above petition, Sage Ridge School has a compulsion, an obligation, to ensure the availability of a strong, well-funded debate program to all students. Whether one loves it or hates it, debate is irrefutably an essential component of Sage Ridge School. Debater Kristen Lowe (‘13), describes debate as, “more than an activity,” but “a way of life!”