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HSLDA National Debate Tournament—Act II

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S P E C I A L   F E A T U R E

HSLDA National Debate Tournament—Act II

The Scene:
Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville, Virginia, just down the road from HSLDA’s national headquarters. It’s a humid 99 degrees outside and not much cooler inside.

The Date:
June 26-27, 1998

The Players:
Fifty-eight home schooled debaters (or 29 teams) from across the nation.

The Topic:
Resolved: That Congress should enact laws which discourage the relocation of U.S. businesses to foreign countries.

     Although the tournament began with 29 teams, in the end, only two of those teams could advance to the final round. And after the final round, only one team would remain undefeated.
     To the amazement of everyone involved, the final round of the 1998 Home School Legal Defense Association National Debate Tournament pitted brother against brother. Joseph Rose, 14, and John Peter Rose, 13, members of two different California debate teams, prepared to face off. On the affirmative side, arguing that Congress should enact laws to discourage U.S. business relocation, Gabriel Ballard, 17, joined the younger Rose brother, John Peter. Joseph Rose and his partner Janai Hess, 16, took the negative side, advocating the benefits of U.S. business relocation to foreign countries.
     John Peter Rose presented the affirmative case to the judges: Michael Farris, president of HSLDA; Christy Shipe (formerly Farris), national debate coordinator; and Sara Romang, debate instructor and former college debater. After more than an hour of debate, the judges cast their ballots: on a 3-0 decision, Joseph Rose and Janai Hess won the tournament. John Peter Rose and Gabriel Ballard took second place.
     Joseph and Janai, the tournament champions, each received a silver cup and a check for $500. Gabriel and John, the second place team, also received silver cups and checks for $250. These four young people fought hard for their awards; each of them had to debate six preliminary rounds and then win their quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, defeating the 27 other teams present at the tournament in order to make it to the final round.
     “It was exciting to see the real growth in this year’s debate tournament,” Michael Farris said. “First, the growth in numbers was gratifying—from 16 teams from 8 states in 1997 to 29 teams from 14 states in 1998. And there is no question that the quality of the debates has improved.”
     The other judges present at the tournament agreed. “I saw a distinct improvement over last year’s tournament as far as clarity of focus and use of evidence,” said Darren Jones, legal assistant to HSLDA lawyer Dewitt Black. Jones judged seven rounds of debate, the most of any judge at the tournament. He also judged the most rounds at last year’s national tournament. “As speakers, the debaters were able to do a better job debating rather than just public speaking. I’m looking forward to next year. If it improved that much in one year, next year should be awesome,” Jones said.
     Jones was one of 41 judges who gave their time and talent to the 1998 National Tournament. The judge pool included Virginia Delegate Dick Black, Leadership Institute President Morton Blackwell, several area lawyers, and most of HSLDA’s legal and communications departments staff.
     “This tournament was a success, not only for the winners, but also for everyone involved,” said Christy Shipe. “Each of the debaters had an outstanding opportunity to improve the lasting skills that debate teaches no matter where they placed at nationals.”
     Michael Farris said, “I genuinely look forward to seeing what lies ahead—for future debate tournaments, but even more important, for what these home school debaters will do as leaders in the rest of their lives.