On September 23rd, eight members of the first ever Cotter Debate team participated in their first ever Congressional Debate tournament at Wayzata High School.
Team members are: Miriam Ellis, Alison French, Viva Graff, Rey Huang, Martin Kim, Choco Li, Clarie Li, Grace Miller, Charley Schroeder, and Kevin Tian.
The 10-member team prepped for the meet by studying the tournament-provided Legislative Docket. A docket can contain one of three types: Bill, Resolution, or Amendment. For this tournament there were 12 pieces of legislation with topics including:
Effectiveness of Private Prisons
Allowing prescription drugs from Canada
This particular meet was geared towards first-time Congressional Debaters. Wayzata provided a 30-minute introduction to how Congressional Debate works and a 30-minutes Q&A opportunity after the first Congressional Session. This was to help the novice entrants, as well as remind the experienced ones how Congressional Debate works.
Our team of seven (pictured) was divided into three House Chambers, along with the other six or seven schools that participated. Each chamber typically has between 18 and 23 students.
In each chamber, the Representatives (students) voted for a Presiding Officer (PO), voted on the order of legislation (the docket), and then proceeded to debate amongst the competitors. The process starts off with a speech in the affirmative or in the negative of the first piece of legislation. After that 3-minute speech, Representatives of the chamber who have questions for the speaker stand up and are called upon one at a time by the PO. This is a rapid fire one or two-minute Q&A, one question at a time. Think of a press conference, but sped up 10x. After that Q&A, the PO then calls for the next Representative...who would present an opposing view of the legislation. Speeches alternate between affirmative and negative until all that want to speak have spoken. Finally, a Representative in that chamber will "motion the previous question"...which means they are calling for a vote. The PO then asks for the Representatives in favor of the legislation to stand up and be counted. Then the PO does the same for the Representatives not in favor to stand up. After the count is completed, the PO announces the result.
A Representative will then motion for a break. After the break, the next piece of legislation is "processed.
Also in the chamber are two Judges and a Parliamentary, who keeps the chamber moving along if the PO or Representatives have an issue.
There are two different judges for each session, so each Representative will obtain critiques from four judges. A judge will critique the Representatives that present in the affirmative and negative, looking for "speech" ability as well as organization of thought (did they present a good argument with supporting facts). In addition, each Representative is critiqued on the quality of question(s) they ask of others as well as how well they answer the questions asked of them. The judge will then assign points based on that quality of speech from six points down to one. Finally, the judge will rank the Top 8 in that chamber session.
Each "session" lasts two hours. After lunch there is a second "session" in the same chamber with two new judges. A new PO is voted in and the process continues.
For the Wayzata meet, Representative Huang earned 7th place in Chamber 3...our first award for the team!
Six Representatives will hit the road October 7th to Lakeville South High School.
Other tournaments this season will be:
October 14th to Maple Grove High School
October 28th to East Ridge High School
November 11th to Edina High School
December 1st/2nd in Eagan (this is Sections as well as a Novice meet).
Pictured left to right are Representatives Choco Li, Miriam Ellis, Martin Kim, Rey Huang, Viva Graff, Alison French, and Grace Miller.