Peter Shin
Middle Pages Editor
January 12, 2017

On December 7, Freshman Chera Yoon won the Congress Debate at Marriotts Ridge. Yoon delivered her speech about various legislative bills alone since she was the only student representing Atholton at this competition.

“I liked talking in front of the public, and I just thought that it would be a good experience,” said Chera Yoon. “That was my first speech I delivered in the Congress Debate of the year, but I was surprised I won.”

The Congress Debate was the fourth one of the school year, where different debate teams from across Maryland gather and perform mock Congressional hearings on a myriad of bills. Students submit bills they wish to discuss, and then few weeks prior to the debate, they learn exactly what they will be discussing in the session. The students then choose a bill they wish to examine and write a speech affirming or negating it.

G/T research teacher Ms. Burns, the coach and sponsor of the Debate Team, helps the students prepare for debate competitions.

“Debate requires research on a variety of topics, so it lends itself to having students work independently,” said Ms. Burns. “Because I act as a judge for other teams in the league, I try to share what I learn through observing the most successful debaters, but students do the lion’s share of the work.”

Ms. Burns helped Yoon prepare for the Congress debate, not through strategy or debate tips, however, but through positive reinforcement.

“I’m not sure I helped Chera much other than providing encouragement. I told her to relax and have fun because she was pretty nervous,” said Ms. Burns. “Chera won because she was the most prepared person in her session, and she spoke more eloquently than her competitors.  Chera took a risk and it paid off!”

Other students had positive things to say about Yoon and her hardworking attitude in debate.

“Chera is a talented debater because of her incredible, relentless work ethic,” said Amal Imtiaz, a junior on the debate team. “Her hard work paid off and is an example of how you get out of debate what you put into it. Chera already has the work ethic and as she gains experience over the next couple of years, she is bound to do even greater things in debate in the future.”

This win for the Atholton Debate is a great victory and a sign for things to come. The recent win in the Congressional Debate shows the potential of the small yet determined debate team and the young talent within. The debate team has three more debate competitions until March and Nationals in May, if the team makes it.

“Our team is small but mighty! I’m also very excited about the addition of young, talented students, like Chera,” said Ms. Burns. “It really only takes a few committed students to have a successful team. Our season ends in March but who knows, maybe we’ll make it to Nationals.”

Posted by Peter Shin