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Photo Courtesy of Caroline Fields

The FCHS debate team after winning Runner-Up award at the Feb. 19 competition at JMU.

Arguing Their Way to Success

March 14, 2022

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After many months of arguing, the Fluvanna Debate team went to James Madison University (JMU) to compete in the Shenandoah Valley Forensics League Championship. The team left the high school early in the morning and arrived at JMU at 8 am. However, before the team could compete, they not only first had to prepare, but then they had to debate in three prior competitions to qualify.

The Shenandoah Valley Forensics League, or ShenVaFl for short, is the league in which the FCHS Debate team competes from Regionals to States. The way the league works is that there are three competitions to qualify for the championship. The championship round, which is titled the Tournament of Champions, decides the champions for the league. However, before they compete at the tournament, they first have to prepare.

“[Preparing] wasn’t too different [From previous competitions], other than I placed more emphasis on preparing for potential blocks to our contentions. So that meant I spent a lot of time getting really specific statistics,” said Riley Yowell, FCHS Senior and Team Captain. The team is split up into four sections, Policy, Lincoln-Douglass, Student Congress, and Public Forum.

“Quite honestly, [the] prep was the same [as previous debates], just a little more involved. I had most of my prep done in January before the original tournament date but then it was pushed to last weekend, so I took a break from doing work until then. A big change was that they combined the two chambers into one big one, changing how I needed to plan my bills. But mostly, I networked with other debaters from other schools to determine the docket ahead of time and so was pretty well prepared that way,” said FCHS senior and Student Congress debater Joseph O’Connor.

The championship was originally scheduled for Jan. 29. Snow fell earlier on the week of the competition, and the competition was postponed to Feb. 19 due to snow. Not only did this give more preparation time for the competition, but it also threw a curveball with transportation. “It was frustrating when we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to go, as transportation for the team wasn’t fully available until the last minute,” said Yowell.

After the rescheduling and the transportation issues, the debate team made it to the competition and the teams went to the debates. “Once we got in, the debate was not much different from previous [Student Congress] sessions. Most of the same people were there and the entire environment felt a bit more relaxed. Overall, there wasn’t much difference, aside from topics,” said O’Connor. Other teammates, however, felt it was much more intense. “There were more rounds, it was an all day event, and we were on a college campus that required us to walk from building to building. All of our opponents were also of a high caliber,” said Yowell, who competes in policy.

The Policy Debate duo of Riley Yowell and Caroline Fields placed first in Policy. Duo Ashlyn Fayard and Callie Taylor placed second in Public Policy. Public Forum duo Jocelynn Hagan and Blake Hilliard placed 6th in Public Forum.

Overall, the Fluco team managed to take home runner-up title at the Shenandoah Valley Forensics League Championship. Next up for the team will be the VHSL Regional competition on March 19.

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About the Contributor
Photo of Matthew Gresham
Matthew Gresham, FCHS Journalist

Matthew is a sophomore in his second year of journalism. he is an eagle scout and interested in hiking, camping, NASCAR, and airsoft.

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