Let’s Debate


David Rudd, Editor

In the past few years, Mr. Gutierrez’s Debate Club has become a bright spot for West Boca. While representing the school, students have traveled to dozens of competitions and have had success. The team has often had to drive for hours to reach their competitions’ locations. “Debate” encompasses many different types of competitions, which includes standard debates, speeches, and more.

The West Boca debate team entered the 2021 school year ready to compete once again. However, like so many other clubs and teams, funding was lacking due to the coronavirus pandemic. Competitions moved online, but that didn’t change the cost. According to Me. Gutierrez, “Nation-wide there is a similar issue with a 33% drop in returning teams this year. Much of this is due to financial strain on smaller debate programs.”

Through this challenge, West Boca’s team was able to stay intact. Last year the team attended 28 tournaments, but due to financial troubles, this year they could only attend one. The one tournament that West Boca was able to compete at was the Palm Beach County Regional Ethics Bowl. Mr. Gutierrez expressed how proud he was of the team before announcing that in their tournament West Boca’s two teams placed 2nd and 3rd among the 8 teams that competed in regionals. “Their victories brought them prizes in the form of individual scholarships as well as much-needed funding for our team.”

This year was, of course, different. The team couldn’t perform as often as they would have liked, and ultimately couldn’t grow and reach their full potential. As things regarding the pandemic are beginning to return to normal, students are encouraged to join the debate team next year. The Debate Club allows students to grow and engulf themselves in many different categories of relevant topics. Some students may debate the ethics of autonomous lethal robots on one day, while others perform selection of poetry and prose. As described by Mr. Gutierrez, “There are competition styles that match everyone’s personality.” In debate, students learn how to most effectively convey their ideas. First, students can overcome one of the largest fears in society, public speaking. Furthermore, students can begin to recognize and focus on the emotional response to their performances. Students really evaluate their word choice and sentence structure to ensure that their words are as moving as possible. This skill is essential in many professions.

“Communicating your ideas, supporting them with evidence, and delivering them in a way that can be thought-provoking and emotionally resonant is a skill few people nurture in themselves.”

The debate team provides healthy challenges and competition. Students truly grow throughout their time in debate. Like any other team, debate students are a tight knit group who work extremely hard to ensure positive results when competing against other students from across the state of Florida.