Rossland Secondary School was alive with thinkers this weekend, as debate teams from as far as Spokane came to put their logic to the test.
This year, the debate tournament was organized by two senior students of the school Sydney Gomez and Tierra Brant. Gomez and Brant are usually RSS’s debate team, but this year decided to try the organizing side of things out.
“We had the most experience, so we became coaches, and coaches organize the tournaments,” Gomez said. “It all happened very fast.”
The event came up so fast that planning didn’t start until the end of September and beginning of October.
She also said that a lot of the planning took place only days before the tournament.
“We only had six judges on Thursday (Oct. 27) and we needed 48,” she said, adding that the day before the tournament, “we miraculously found 42 judges.”
Both Brant and Gomez have been debating since Grade Seven.
“My first debate was at provincials and I got last place,” Gomez said. “I was like ok, I have to do better. I was hooked.”
Gomez went to nationals twice and she and Brant have been partners for the past two years.
This year, the teacher who usually organizes the tournament moved to J.L. Crowe Secondary so there was an opening.
As the oldest and most experienced they were the likely candidates as organizers and coaches, so that’s what they did.
Gomez said that though the planning started last month it was down to the wire by the end.
“The end of September is when most of the planning started, because in the beginning we were all just sort of figuring out the debate club and the date and such,” she said. “So yeah it was mostly end of September, beginning of October and, well, last night.”
The 42 judges that they found the night before were from Rossland, Trail, Castlegar and Nelson.
She said the need for the extra judges came from a pouring in of debate teams from places as far as Spokane’s Gonzaga Prep.
“It was amazing,” she said. “We usually have probably 15, 20 debaters. It’s usually a more localized tournament. I guess we sent out the invitation to more people. It got pretty big.”
She said it’s not usually this big and this spread out; the tournament had to be spread throughout RSS on Saturday.
The timers and chairpersons were mostly volunteers from the school. They’re usually Grade 8 to 11 students.
“They generally do it for free pizza,” she said.
“Though some do it because they want to debate but can’t. That way they can watch it and be a part of it.”
Gomez also wanted to thank all the contributions from the community to help in making the day a success.