You’ll Have to Get Up Early to Win a Debate with These Young Ladies

I love argument, I love debate. I don’t expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me; that’s not their job.
—Margaret Thatcher

Please join us in celebrating these talented students!

As we’ve discussed in previous CSD Spotlight articles (including this one published on January 9 of this year), Colchester High School’s participation in the Vermont Debate and Forensics League is winning our students considerable acclaim. Most recently, CHS students Lauren Hutchings and Summer Colley placed third in the Vermont 2013 Public Forum Debate State Tournament, going on to place second at the March 15 & 16 National Forensic League’s district tournament in Oneonta, New York, and qualifying for the national event in Birmingham, Alabama, later this year!


CHS’s Summer Colley, Bob Hall, and Lauren Hutchings with their trophy from the Vermont 2013 Public Forum Debate State Tournament

“Nationals is going to be unlike anything we’ve done so far. We’re really going to have to spend a lot of time getting ready for that level of competition,” Lauren said.

“Being good isn’t going to be enough. We’re going to have to be perfect in everything—research, presentation, cross-fire …” Summer added.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, cultivating excellent debating skills is excellent preparation for life beyond high school. “For my money, debate is one of the best activities for college and life preparation,” said CHS’s Guidance department chair Bob Hall, who was recently named the Vermont Debate Coach of the Year. “Students develop many valuable twenty-first-century skills in debate, including research, collaboration, communication, public speaking, critical thinking, and problem-solving, rigorously tested by their peers in authentic settings.”

At the March 15 & 16 National Forensic League’s district tournament in Oneonta, New York, Lauren and Summer qualified for the June 16–21 NFL National Speech & Debate Tournament in Birmingham, Alabama, having secured one of two spots available with a 6–1 record. “This is the first time a CHS debate team has gone to nationals,” said Bob Hall.

“We’re going to just prepare as much as we can, do our best, and keep our fingers crossed for nationals,” Summer said.

“We’re lucky to have teachers willing to help us. Some have even volunteered to debate us to help us get ready,” said Lauren.

Summer Colley, Bob Hall, and Lauren Hutchins following the Iroquois District Tournament in Oeneata, New York

Summer Colley, Bob Hall, and Lauren Hutchings following the 2013 Iroquois National Forensics League District Tournament in Oneonta, New York

Why is debate important? As an example, it is fundamental in leadership and in policy making. (CHS senior Hanna Orselet participated in Girls State and Girls Nation last summer—a leadership program in which representatives engage in model state legislatures to debate issues and pass bills—and she met President Obama in the process.)

How does this relate to your school district’s mission? The Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017′s pathways include Pathway A: High Standards, Expectations, and Individual Engagement for All Learners; Pathway C: Learning Outside Our Four Walls; and Pathway E: Parent, Community, and School Partnerships Among Lifelong Learners. We are working hard to provide powerful learning and growing opportunities for each and every student.

Fundraising efforts are under way to send the students to the national competition. If you are interested in helping these students to meet their fundraising goal of $5,000, checks can be made payable to CHS Debate c/o Colchester High School and sent to:

Colchester High School
131 Laker Lane
Colchester, VT 05446

Many, many thanks to the following organizations for their funding assistance in sending the students to the regional competition:

If you would like more information, please contact Bob Hall at (802) 264-5710, or e-mail him at

Congratulations and good luck in Birmingham, Lauren and Summer!

Do you like CSD Spotlight? If so, please encourage your family and friends to subscribe! We are working hard to engage our community and keep everyone informed. Please help us spread the word!

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