By Nick Sestanovich
The Winter Olympics are taking place right now, but it is not just athletes who are practicing to do their best to compete. Just ask Benicia High School’s Debate Team.
The team will be taking part in the Golden Gate Speech Association’s State Qualifiers at James Logan High School in Union City on Sunday, March 3. To raise money for participation in the event, the team will be hosting a Debate Night at BHS this Friday.
The Debate Team’s competitions are another step forward for Benicia High’s growing speech and debate program, which started as a class taught by Michele Gaines last year and spun off a student club which hosted a series of lunchtime debates known as Debate Week.Rayna Fitzgerald, a senior, said she was recruited by then-club leader Timothy Knox for Debate Week. Fitzgerald had participated in in-class debates during Gaines’ Advanced Placement Language and Composition class, but she had never officially debated before that.“It was my first time debating in front of a more public audience,” she said. “I really ended up enjoying it. I would say it’s transformed into one of my passions.”Senior Morgan Bundy was also introduced to public speech through Gaines’ AP Lang class, then took part in the lunchtime debates and is now in the speech and debate class.“I’ve always been opinionated, but I’ve never been able to formally debate issues,” she said. “That’s why I thought the speech and debate class would be interesting.”Senior Juan Salinas was also recruited by Knox to debate. He felt his first debate was not very strong, but he liked the idea of doing research on issues and being able to speak in front of an audience.