Debate Gaining Recognition

The Trials and Triumphs of Woodside Debate Team

Stefan Sujansky, Politics Editor

WOODSIDE, CA- The Woodside High School debate team, in its first year of existence, is crushing its opponents in local tournaments.

This team isn’t your stereotypical stuffy group of white people, though, standing behind lecterns and spewing out gibberish in a monotonous voice. Instead, debate in the Bay Area has changed, moving instead towards a faster-paced, more fluid form or structured policy argument that gives students more freedom with how they want to approach an issue.

“I think it just creates really good conversations and it’s a great way for people to express their opinions and hear other ideas that they might not have otherwise heard,”  Nisa Danitz, one of the debaters who has seen the most success in this debate format, said.

Nisa and her partner, Mia Cadet, have been taking the Silicon Valley Urban Debate League by storm, taking first place in both of the last two tournaments that they have participated in. The most surprising aspect of this, however, is the fact that their last victory came after the first time they ever debated at the junior varsity level, competing against other Silicon Valley teens who have been practicing at that level for months. But they aren’t the only ones succeeding.

“Woodside’s been doing great,” debate coach Anne Ken told the Woodside World. “The last debate tournament we had here at Woodside -December third- we pretty much… … beat everyone else.”

In the tournament, Woodside debaters swept the top five best speakers in the lowest, novice division and swept the top three teams.  At the JV level, where the team was competing for the first time, Woodside had two of the top three teams and two of the top five speakers, including the top speaker: Mia Cadet.

“We meet a lot outside of debate club and we collaborate and we make sure to share our arguments beforehand and make sure we know our plan,” Cadet answered when asked what her secret to success was.

However, all of this success in competing has not come without troubles outside of the debate room.  The Silicon Valley Urban Debate League (or SVUDL) has a certain set of requirements that each team needs to meet before competing, as Anne Ken explains.