The ZIS Debate Club & Team was started by a ZIS alumni who graduated in 2014. The goal was to have a casual lunch time club in which people could have educated, interactive debates with one another. The members were fortunate enough to have a debate leader with prior experience in coaching: english teacher Geoffrey Peake who had taught in Shanghai. For a couple years the debate club remained a small group, since the idea of a debate club/team was still foreign to ZIS.
In 2014, there was a shift that could be seen in the level of activity in the debate club. When the original founders of the club were seniors, the incoming freshman class crowded the room, eager to commit to an activity that had never been proposed in middle school.
Soon after the year of casual debate finished, three elected members of the newly founded “Executive Team” successfully attempted to create an actual debate team. This team would travel to tournaments and compete against other schools, adding intensity and formality to this previously casual lunchtime club. A group of eight students jetted off in January 2017 for a competition in TASIS, England (See Lucas Frauenlob’s article about this event).
Since the development of that team, and following its success in being the first ever ZIS Debate Team, each new school year has brought another batch of eager freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. With this bigger group of students came bigger responsibility, as expectations were raised in regards to organization and tournament attendance. This prompted Mr. Peake and the original captains, Sam Reza (’19) and Max Stroemer (’19), to open up a slot for a third executive to aid in managing the debate club. Three candidates submitted applications: Luke Baker-Cowling (’19), Greta Hjärre (’19), and Olivia Ravery (’19), all debate club members since the 9th grade. After the process involving a lengthy email to Mr. Peake underlining the reasons they would be competent candidates for the executive position, and the changes they could administer in order to improve the club.
Following the three submissions, an unexpected outcome came: all three were allotted spots as executives. Olivia served as the third Debate Club Captain alongside Sam and Max, whereas Greta and Luke became leaders and managers of the Debate Team; their job entailing tournament organization.
This distribution of responsibilities has enabled the first official debate event of this year to occur: an intramural debate on the 31st of October. This intramural debate allowed for inexperienced debaters to acquire a sense for real debates and gain confidence surrounded by peers in a comfortable environment. It also served as a way to determine which students will be chosen to officially represent the ZIS Debate Team abroad once international tournaments begin. On behalf of the executive team and Mr. Peake, we hope that the members will commit to the team and invest the time to represent their school to the best of their ability.