Newly-Formed Debate Club Argues It’s the Best New Club on Campus

Debate coach Robert Heap instructs the debate team members at a practice on Sept. 14. (photo by Hyde Healy)

The logo of the National Catholic Forensic League, a national speech and debate league that includes member schools across the United States and Canada. (Image source: Tabroom.com)

(COVINGTON, La)  Beginning this year, St. Paul’s School will have a Debate Club for the first time in decades. Formed by sophomore Hal Fox, the debate team will compete in the National Catholic Forensic League—which includes high schools across the United States and Canada—and will be moderated by Spanish I teacher Christina Zapata, Religion I teacher Christopher Sturgill, and AP Writing and Creative Writing teacher Robert Heap.

Fox, whose mother coaches the speech and debate team at Christ Episcopal School (the only debate team on the northshore prior to the creation of the St. Paul’s team), says he’s always loved argumentation. According to Fox, being exposed to the sport of debate throughout the last few years of his life has made him want to start the club at St. Paul’s.

“I’ve been seeing my mom coach (Christ Episcopal’s debate team) and seeing all my friends who stayed at Christ Episcopal do it,” Fox said, “And I was thinking enough is enough, I wanna start one here.”

While the work of actually starting the Debate Club happened this school year, Fox was kicking around the idea of starting it with Sturgill, his freshmen year religion teacher, towards the end of last year.

“We had a lot of in-class debates,” Fox said. “I thought this might be something he’d be interested in pursuing further.”

Fox is confident that this new Debate Club, which garnered over thirty signatures at Get Involved Day, will not follow in the footsteps of past St. Paul’s Debate Clubs, most of which never got off the ground.

“Every single time (starting a debate club) had not worked out,” Fox said. “Not enough kids, or something or other came up, and it never happened. So, I was thinking this is not gonna be like those times.”

Since entering the Catholic Forensic League, St. Paul’s has been welcomed with open arms. Recently, the debate team at Isadore Newman School in New Orleans offered to come to the northshore and practice with St. Paul’s.

“(Isadore Newman is) excited,” moderator of the SPS debate club Zapata said. “They’re sending me emails, and they are very encouraging. So, I feel very supported.”

Debate is a year-round activity, and any interested St. Paul’s student can join at any time throughout the year. Practices are after school every Monday and Thursday in Sturgill’s classroom (Benilde Hall, Room 124), and students should talk to Fox, Sturgill, Zapata, or Heap about signing up.

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