Boating and water safety is usually at forefront of lake area residents minds. Recently six Camdenton High School students got the chance to debate various aspects of keeping Lake of the Ozarks safe. Not only did the students learn more about their community but they were able to show community members what they are capable of in a debate round.
"We were approached by the Camdenton High School Debate team coaches about sponsoring a debate and to develop a topic. We wanted a topic that was a topic that could be debated and that was pertinent to the Lake of the Ozarks," Camdenton Area Chamber of Commerce Director Trish Creach said. "Camdenton schools have some incredibly talented students and cases were made on both sides in order to find a balance between regulations and safety. We want everyone to come to our lake and enjoy our water and to do that in a safe manner. The kids did an wonderful job making their cases."
The first debate was done in the Public Forum format and looked at the need of more boating education and the requirement of a boating license. The pro argument made by Derrick Ritchie and Mason Taft focused on the need for better boater education while the con side made Jesse Oliver and Max Wheeler focused on the need of speed regulations on the water versus the education.
The second debate was more focused on the value of safety and was done in the Lincoln Douglas format. Both sides argued the value of safety while the con side added a pragmatic view in which looked at the most logical way to provide that safety. The pro side made by Mira Rao debated that the Lake of the Ozarks needs speed and boat size regulations while the con side made by Alaina Sonksen argued that education needs to be focused on in order to ensure boaters safety.
"One of our goals was to let the community have a better understanding of what we do," Coach and teacher Tom Martin said. "We wanted to expose the community both to the format and to let people know the capabilities of our students."
For the students, this experience enabled them to dig deeper into their own community and learn about a specific local issue instead of a national topic like they are used to debating at tournaments.
"I think it is great for the debaters to get that local mind set since we normally talk about the national topics," teacher Micah Joseph said.
Students Derrick Ritchie and Mason Taft took at the pro argument advocating for more boater education. They agreed with Joseph and seemed to enjoyed researching a local topic.
"I think it was a really good experience to learn a local topic. Mostly what we talk about is international and how it affects the country. Just this look at a local topic, let us research what we are actually living in, in the community," Ritchie said.
Page 2 of 2 - Taft added, "I think this was a great experience for us to have. This has been a great opportunity for me to show how far I've come as a debater since my novice year and how much it has made me grow as a person and become more knowledgeable not only about our country and what is going on in the world but as a community member itself and how important it is to keep in touch wiht our local issues."
Twelve judges from the community including Camden County Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken, a Missouri State Highway Patrol officer, a local attorney, Chamber members and Camdenton Chamber member Trish Creach listened intently to both debates. For many, it was their first time to ever see such a debate.
"It was presented well. It was the first debate that I've ever been a part of and it was very informative. We hope to grow this debate to truly showcase the talents of our local students," Creach said.
At the end of the night, the judges revealed their scores. In the Public Forum debate, the pro side made by Derick Ritchie and Mason Taft won with a 8 to 4 vote and in the Lincoln Douglas debate the con side made by Alaina Sonksen won by a 12 to 0 vote.
The Camdenton High School Debate team just returned from the Mexico High School War of the Words tournament where many students came home with awards. Alaina Sonksen placed first in Poetry and second in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Derrick Ritchie placed first in Prose, Shelby Boze placed fourth in Lincoln-Douglas Debate and sixth in Poetry, Mason Taft and Alexis McNabb placed fourth in Duet Acting, Mira Rao and Max Wheeler placed fourth Public Forum Debate and Will Pierce was a finalist in Humorous Interpretation.
They will be leaving for a tournament in Lebanon this upcoming weekend.