Middle School Debate Tackles Real Issues

Poly’s Middle School debate is a beloved tradition and a highly decorated team with more than 50 members. Participation in Middle School debate begins during sixth-grade block where every Poly student has the opportunity to learn about debate and try out their skills. Sign-up is open to all, and students are welcome to compete so long as they prepare their arguments. The team meets Tuesdays and Fridays after school and travels to competitions every four to six weeks. 

Students must prepare arguments for both sides of the debate with recent topics including boycotting fast fashion, admitting Turkey to the European Union, and whether there should be universal income. Topics are determined by coaches at competitions, and Poly’s team is advised by teachers Katie Ward and Paul Johnson. 

“I think a lot of the kids are developing this very strong sense of justice, and debate is an outlet for that,” said Paul. “We talk about these very big important issues and delve into all of the nuances behind them. I think it's a point in their development where this really clicks with a lot of kids.”

Katie shared, “Parents report that students really enjoy it and that they often talk about the debate topics at home over dinner. Students often want to be researching for their debate instead of doing their homework!”

Middle School debate recently took over the Poly campus for the Middle School Tri-League Debate Tournament. Out of 96 teams and 268 individuals, Poly had six top-20 teams and seven top-30 speaker awards, including a first-place gavel win by Cavon H. ’27.

The team has two remaining competitions for the year on April 29—one at the Chandler School and the MSPDP Championships at Claremont Mckenna College. We wish our debaters luck in these competitions!