By Ryan Carini and Sarah Pride
Patrick Henry College
As the 2007-2008 academic year winds down, Patrick Henry College’s parliamentary and debate can take satisfaction in another successful season. Besides the normal slate of team awards, the National Educational Debate Association (NEDA) named senior Nathanael Yellis an All-American Debater. NEDA gives the award to students for their “commitment to the activity of debate, to ethical communicative advocacy, and to a style of public speaking that transfers well to the world at large.”
Yellis served with fellow senior Isaiah McPeak as coaches of two of the College’s various debate teams, organizing weekly meetings and serving the team in a range of capacities.
Assessing the recently-completed season, the parli team in particular enjoyed breakthrough success.
“PHC has never won a parli tournament in the open division before. We won three this year,” said senior Kawika Vellalos, coach of the parli team, which is now ranked 36th in the country out of 200 schools.
Freshman Grace Lichlyter said the team improved in technical aspects, specifically in its mastery of the use of parliamentary terms and procedures, the demanding vocabulary of parli debate. “It’s like learning a new language. But once we learn that language we’re much better communicators,” she concluded.
Their most recent tournament was the National Parliamentary Tournament at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“It’s an amazing parli tournament, mainly because teams come from all around the country,” said sophomore Levi Swank. Most of the other parli tournaments they attended this year were regional.
PHC competed against 90 schools at the tournament, and while they never made it to any out rounds, the experience was still invaluable.
“The only way we can improve is through more practice and more interaction with west coast teams,” Swank said.
The debate season also proved a confidence-building exercise, as PHC debaters won two of the three tournaments entered and placed second at the third.
“Overall, I think it was a successful season,” said sophomore Brianna Edelblut, the debate team’s coach.
Sophomore Aidan Grano cited several areas of improvement over the season, noting how they were able to improve their connection with the judges to bring home a large number of speaker awards.
The debate team’s last tournament was in St. Peters, Rhode Island, where, with a spring break-depleted team, individuals won several awards and the team captured second place in sweepstakes. Even so, Edelblut noted, “PHC still came within two points of winning.”
Edelblut calls the support from PHC students “amazing. . . . I could not have made it through this semester without the help and support of a ton of people.”