The Delta Charter High School debate team is going strong into its second year.
The team size has increased from 28 to 36 participants from last year. It has a mandatory practice session every Friday at New Jerusalem School in rural Tracy, and students also schedule additional practices. The team usually debates on current affairs, depending on the topics given. Most recently, participants discussed medical ethics.
Reed Niemi is coaching the debate team for his second year. Before that, he coached teams at James Logan High School in Union City and at the Athenian School in Danville. In addition to debate, he also teaches social studies at the charter school.
Niemi, who competed in debate in college, said that there are three big reasons kids join the debate team.
“Bottom line, you’ll get dates and jobs,” he said, “You’ll get dates because you have confidence, and you’ll get jobs because you can talk about yourself.”
He added that colleges take a close look at speech and debate experience at admissions time.
Niemi said he was impressed with last year’s team.
“The fact that the students went to a tournament last year was very brave,” he said.
Debate team member Caitlin Sarvey, who has since graduated, also was able to represent her school in the national debate competitions.
Kimberly Vance, 17, has returned to the team for her second year with more confidence.
“The first two or three times, I was nervous,” she said, “but after I did it a few times, I was just excited.”
The other students on the debate team are Travis Trapp, Troy Stevenson and Tyler Zellmer. Their first competition will be a three-day invitational at University of the Pacific, in Stockton.
- Bryce Kish is a student at Millennium Charter High School in Tracy. He is an intern at the Tracy Press.