HOME FOR DEBATE: Tonganoxie host for state tourney
Roughly 250 high school debate students from across the state will be arguing their hardest Friday and Saturday in Tonganoxie.
The state debate tournament for Class 4A and Class 3-2-1A will take place Friday and Saturday on Tonganoxie school campuses.
Tonganoxie High School debate coach Steve Harrell said the district has hosted several regular-season debate tournaments through the years, but they usually have 100 teams competing. There will be about 125 teams from 31 Class 4A and 20 Class 3-2-1A schools competing starting Friday.
“It’s a super-sized version of what we do on an annual basis,” Harrell said, noting there are some rules and guidelines that come with a Kansas State High School Activities Association event. “You don’t call all the shots. Scheduling is part of that.”
Competitions will run all day Friday at Tonganoxie Middle School and Tonganoxie High School east and west campus buildings. USD 464 students will not have school Friday because of the tournaments.
TMS will be used until about 2 p.m. Saturday, with the west campus finishing up about 3:30 p.m. Harrell estimates the tournament would end about 9 p.m. Saturday on the east campus with an awards presentation at Tonganoxie Performing Arts Center.
Harrell said anyone interested in watching Tonganoxie teams compete would need to contact him to determine when and where competitions are taking place. THS competitions at the middle school or THS west campus would be possibilities for viewing.
About 60 volunteers are assisting with judging and other needs. Harrell said all district administrators, as well as the high school leadership class, also would be involved with the tournament. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact him at 913-704-8177.
Austin Harris, a junior on Tonganoxie’s four-person regional champion team, said he’s eager to be part of the host school for state.
“It’s a good opportunity for the community,” he said.
Harris said he likes the “home-field advantage” of not needing to get up quite as early and travel to the tournament. He said the familiarity of being at his own school “keeps the nerves down.”
He also predicts the influx of students and others should benefit the local economy.
“Friday and Saturday will be very busy,” Harris said. “For the lunch breaks, I expect a lot of business for all the restaurants.”
Hunter Cook, who competes on the negative side of the argument on the four-speaker team, said state is the culmination of a season that started for some with preparation last summer. Regular-season debate tournaments began in September and ran through December.
“It’s a major time commitment during that time,” Cook said.
During the regular season, preparation averages 10 hours per week, but is amped up to 40 hours as state nears.
THS will look to add another state trophy to its resume Saturday. The Chieftains advanced a team to Class 4A state for the 20th consecutive year a few weeks ago.
For Harrell, he looks forward to the opportunity of Tonganoxie being a state tournament site.
“I think it’s always good having your district represent your community,” Harrell said. “And the people are coming to your district so you want to put your best face forward and make it a quality event for people coming from various places across the state of Kansas.”