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CHS Debate Team Watching VP Debate Closely

By: Matt Holmes Email
By: Matt Holmes Email

Thursday October 2, 2008

Some young debaters here in Charlottesville are taking a special interest in tonight's Vice Presidential debate; members of the debate team at Charlottesville High School will be watching and hoping to learn from the pros.

The kids say they watch any debates they can, whether it's presidential, vice presidential or even just your run of the mill C-SPAN action. It's all in an effort to improve their championship team.

Their coach says a lot of the things Palin and Biden will be trying to focus on tonight are the same things his students work on after school in practice.

"Making a persuasive argument, that's the key," explains Coach Mike Evans. "The second thing is being able to see the weaknesses in your opponent's argument and reveal those."

Evans says way down the list of importance for his high schoolers is style or speaking in soundbites, which we should see the candidates do a lot of tonight.

The kids say the contrast between Palin and Biden is something they often see in competition; a younger, less experienced debater up against a veteran. They say often times preparation and effective rebuttals can make up the gap in a seemingly mismatched debate.

"You need the skill," says team captain Elizabeth Hylton, "you can't really teach that. You can't teach someone how to be...comfortable with speaking and how to be persuasive. But even if you are persuasive, you still need to know the facts. That's where the preparation really, really comes in."

They say the main difference between high school debate and these national debates is that the high schoolers offer more substance in their debates. But, they add, whether professional or amateur, these debates can be fierce.

"I think it was once described to me as 'intellectual swordplay,'" Hylton says.

Tune in tonight to 19 News Nightcast following the debate as team members weigh in with their evaluation of the candidates' performances.

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