By Michelle Xu
Dana Chen and her brother Bryan Chen are co-founders of the Beckman Debate Team. As successful debaters themselves, Dana and Bryan were inspired to start their own debate club at school because they realized that they were slowly getting disqualified from tournaments since they weren’t competing with an actual school. But starting the club wasn’t easy. Says Dana, “After 2 years of asking the principal of Beckman High to create a debate team, we were finally able to do it this year. It was really hard to get the club started. For a few months, it was only the two of us because we didn’t have a way to professionally advertise to students about joining a club for debate.” The club just started at the beginning of the school year, but it already has 30 students, all doing different types of debate.
“Because we don’t have the fundings for an actual coach, Bryan and I coach the students,” says Dana. “Under our guidance, many of the students that have joined have competed in tournaments this year.” In addition of taking the responsibility of coaching the students, Dana and Bryan also have to work through management issues, such as meeting schedules and tournament entries. The club meets every Tuesday during lunch, where they split into two groups: the novice group and the advanced group. Beginners spend most of the meetings listening to lectures or participating in practice debates, whereas the advanced students do recaps of the tournaments they have attended and work together to prepare for upcoming tournaments.
Although recently started, the team has already competed in seven tournaments and has gotten a lot of recognition from them. The students were able to improve on their public-speaking and critical-thinking skills. Currently, the team is prepping for the upcoming Bruschke tournament, which will take place in April. They are also going over crucial skills in debate, such as flowing, a form of note-taking.
Even though there were a lot of challenges of starting a team, it was all worth it in the end. “The work that everyone puts into making this club work is immense,” shares Dana. “Without a school team, novice students would never find their passion for debate, and experienced debaters would not be able to continue doing what they love.” Other school debate teams, you’d better watch your backs; with its gaining support, the Beckman Debate Team is sure to become more and more successful.