The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

Webb Debate Team Participates in First League Tournament

Taya Sibichenkova
Mirabel Raphael (‘24), Jacky Qi (‘25), and Sebastian Hazlett (‘24), stand together as a team at Al’s Patio

On October 24th at 8:15 am, dozens of Webb team debaters gathered in front of the Liu Cheung Theater, busy exchanging ideas and discussing their thoughts. Unbothered by the cold weather, these passionate students were eager to participate in their first league debate tournament of the school year.
Despite Webb’s transition to in-person learning, this tournament was held virtually on Zoom, consisting of numerous other schools such as Sierra Canyon, LILA, and Oaks Christian.

Webb students had about a month to research and prepare for the two preannounced topics: “The U.S. Constitution should prohibit supermajority legislative votes in Congress” and “Facebook does more harm than good.” In addition to these topics, there were also two impromptu motions: “High school students should be required to demonstrate foreign language fluency” and “U.S. Permanent Residents should be able to vote.”

The debaters put in a lot of time and effort into the preparation process; over the course of several weeks, they thoroughly researched the topics, collected the best supporting evidence, and refined their arguments.

“There were two practices before the debate, where we got to do a mock debate with our individual teams,” Aiperi Bush (‘24) said. “Afterwards, the entire group collectively made a google doc to put all our research in, and we reviewed it to decide which arguments worked best for each side.”
It was a wonderful opportunity for Webb students to gain more debating experience and improve their communication skills in a collaborative environment.

“I thought it was great how efficiently everyone was able to work during the prep time for the impromptu rounds,” said Mirabel Raphael (‘24).

However, the Zoom format was drastically different from in-person debate tournaments and presented several challenges.

“People tend to slack a little bit in terms of topic preparation…people don’t really digest the information as much as they do when they have to write it down and memorize,” said Leslie Huh (‘22), a captain of the debate team.

Zoom debates also change the rules for impromptu rounds. In previous years, impromptus emphasized improvisational thinking, so students were required to produce arguments independently without relying on the internet. With online tournaments, students now have full access to the internet, something that results in unintended repercussions.

“Usually, you don’t have access to any outside resources, but now you do have access to the internet…it changes the core value of impromptu,” Leslie said.

Leslie’s point refers to the principle that students are supposed to utilize logic in impromptu debates, instead of hastily researching twenty minutes before the actual tournament.
Moreover, COVID-19 restrictions created several inconveniences that negatively affected students’ performances.

“Everyone would have to go out of the room before their teammates gave a speech so that they could take their masks off during the speech,” Mirabel said. “Some would even give their speech with their masks on, which could be disruptive to the judge being able to understand you without seeing your mouth moving.”

Mirabel’s own experience was especially challenging. Having to do the online tournament at her house, she was only able to communicate with her teammates over text and call, which created many restrictions.

Despite the challenges, all the Webb debaters improved immensely and undoubtably enjoyed the tournament overall.

“I do enjoy debate very much,” Kevin Wang (‘24) said. “I see it as a very fun and exciting activity”

“My favorite part in debate is when you think of a really good POI… you can stop the best debater in their tracks, and it’s really fun to see them stop and think for a moment,” Leslie said.

The highlight of Sunday’s tournament was the multiple awards that individual Webb students and teams received. In speaker awards, Jenny Wang (‘24) ranked 15th, Hanson Hu (‘23) ranked ninth place, and Leslie Huh (‘22) eighth place. Dayun Suh (‘24) also ranked second place in the Novice Speakers category. Impressively, Mirabel Raphael received the top speaker award, scoring first place in the tournament overall.

While researching for this tournament, students gained a lot of knowledge on the various topics and became more aware of their surroundings.

“In preparing for the debate tournament, I would start to notice things around me that were related to the topic,” Mirabel said. “I would keep seeing news stories about Facebook privacy scandals.”

Indeed, the tournament offered what is perhaps the best of what we can expect from any debate competition right now, given all the COVID restrictions. Perhaps in the future as life eases back to normal, conditions will gradually improve, and Webb debaters will have the chance to display their skills in person.

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About the Contributors
Taya Sibichenkova, Chief Editor of News
Taya Sibichenkova’s (‘24) kindness and commitment to bettering the world through medicinal and environmental studies shines throughout every aspect of her life. From dedicating her summer to researching population health alongside graduate scientists, to sharing her passion for nature as a children’s science camp counselor, to creating an independent research proposal on drug repurposing at the Claremont Colleges, Taya’s interest in health is boundless. Partly driven by her selfless, caring personality and ability to think outside the box, Taya knows the importance of a holistic approach to medicine and a health As Chief Editor of News, she is ready to recognize and spread awareness of the issues our world faces, such as her article on the timeline of the Ukraine-Russia war. Yet Taya’s leadership is not just limited to news and science. For two years now, she has served as a welcoming admissions ambassador. When Taya isn’t busy being a real-life superhero, she enjoys brewing kombucha, knitting, watching sci-fi movies, and playing the guitar. This year, Taya is excited to bring her interests in health sciences and environmental justice to the newsroom and beyond.       Song: Heat Above – Greta Van Fleet
Jenny Wang, Editor-in-Chief
Returning after a transformative summer at Northwestern University, Jenny Wang ('24) is rejoining the Webb Canyon Chronicle as Co-Editor-in-Chief, bursting with fresh journalism skills. Jenny is primarily humble when talking about her talents and interests, she occasionally forgets to flex that she is also a pianist, flutist, comedy enthusiast, and badminton pro. As a prominent figure at Webb, Jenny serves on the VWS honor cabinet, captain of the debate team, and chapel council. Finding comfort in shows like Grey's Anatomy and Gilmore Girls, she balances the demands of her busy life. Jenny's academic pursuits lean towards humanitarian issues; over the summer, she invested extra time into political risk research, specifically analyzing aspects of Israeli lifestyle. Beyond her academic commitments, Jenny's mission this year is to infuse WCC articles with potent and well-balanced viewpoints. Her intellect, vibrant personality, and unwavering laughter contribute to an environment full of energy and positivity. There is no doubt, Jenny Wang embodies a dynamic blend of talents, passions, and determination that enriches both the Webb community and the wider world. Through her versatile contributions and infectious laughter, Jenny's presence leaves an indelible mark, reminding us all of the power of embracing one's passions and sharing them with the world.  Favorite Song: "Welcome to Wonderland" by Anson Seabra

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