Seniors Katelyn Warburton and Wes Baish and junior Kyle Hanson qualified for the National Forensic League's 2009 The Stars Fell on Alabama Nationals.
The event's opening ceremonies are June 14, with debate rounds June 15-18 and the final round of competition June 19.
Hanson is competing in the Senate portion of Student Congress, while Warburton and Baish will challenge other teams in Public Forum Debate.
But, both events are quite different. In Public Forum, Warburton and Baish will work to convince judges they are right, relying on mounds of research they will do to back up their statements. Hanson will look at and research numerous bills and legislation, just as a real-life Senate member would.
Despite their event differences, one thing remains. All three are honored to have the chance to compete at the national debate tournament.
Here are some of the thoughts of the three students — as well as Greg Stevens, who serves as the head coach for the Okoboji-Spirit Lake debate program — as the national competition nears:
Q: What are our feelings going into the nationals. Are you nervous? Excited?
Warburton: I haven't gotten nervous yet. We don't have the topic yet, so I'm still excited.
Hanson: I am very excited, but the work is going to be a lot. There will be 90 bills and I have to come up with a pro and con for both sides.
Baish: I'm excited for it, but at the same time a little bit apprehensive of the competition we'll be seeing. I don't know what it will be like.
Q: When will you know your topic?
Stevens: Topics will be selected May 1.
Q: What kind of topic will you mist likely face?
Warburton: It will be a current issue.
Stevens: It's a current affairs issue. Public forum topics change every month. We've already debated the draft, health care, nuclear power, alternative energy, social networking and analysis of growth in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) economies.
Hanson: We have multiple topics.
Stevens: Every tournament, people from every school can turn in a topic or resolution to be debated.
Q: How are you preparing for the national tournament?
Baish: Right now, sound, mind and body are what we're working on, before we start to do some serious pencil pushing.
Stevens: In other words, we aren't really doing anything until the topic comes out.
Q: What are you looking forward to most about the tournament?
Warburton: I'm excited to see the other teams and see how they debate, because in different areas, they debate differently. Sometimes it's frustrating and sometimes it's just really neat to see something different.
Hanson: I'm also excited to see how other states do the Senate. I'm not sure if it'll be as drastic a change in Public Forum, but it's cool to see different styles and how they present themselves is different from our area. I'm really excited.
Warburton: I'm also excited for the barbecue.
Baish: Instead of barbecue, I'm looking forward to seafood, because it's a little closer to the coast than I've ever been. I'm looking forward to being surrounded by the people that have worked just that hard to get there. They all have a really intense passion for debate.
Hanson: I can't wait for the Southern accent, too. I really want to hear that.
Q: Are you going to do anything else while you're there besides debate?
Stevens: There will be some recreational activities. We're done every night by 6 p.m., so we'll have fun, and we'll probably eat a lot of barbecue.
This article appeared in the April 25, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.