Great Debates at High School

  • Teams of well-informed and eloquent Sayville High School students assembled—on the appointed day—for some great debating.


    Preparations for the Second Sayville High School Presidential Debate were accomplished by several collaborating departments. While the Social Studies Department spearheaded the project from topics to set design, the music and technology departments assisted with the audio systems and videotaping of both debate sessions. The Art department decorated the showcase at the entrance of the auditorium and WSAY broadcasted it on internet radio. 


    The recording of “America the Beautiful” by Ray Charles’ played as the eager students took their seats in the auditorium. The stage, bedecked with campaign posters and helium balloons in patriotic tricolors, was where the conferring debaters cloaked their whispered strategies behind raised hands—as if the excited buzz of the audience were not shield enough.


    It was a formal debate in many ways. Social Studies Department Chairperson Walker Hall, who initiated the debates four years ago, devoted significant time organizing this year’ debate with his colleagues and once again served as moderator, ensuring an orderly process. Appropriately attired debate teams opened with timed statements about the platforms of their own candidates, after which the “issues debates” followed. Topics that had been researched and rehearsed by the students with advice from their Social Studies coaches were now exchanged with vigor. Each candidate’s experiences and character, as well as positions on foreign policy, Homeland Security, the U.S. economy, energy and environment, education and health care were pronounced, examined, and rebutted by the teams, to the encouraging cheers from the audience.


    Even the audience members were allowed to take to the mike (in Town Hall format) that had debaters fielding “unrehearsed” questions. With more questions than time, everyone was sorry when the debaters and audience were forced to wind down the session. Closing the debates, Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” led the assembly out of the auditorium.


    The High School Debate was truly a success. Congratulations to Moderator Walker Hall, all the coaches, Sue Hart, Debbie Armendinger, Sabine Loristan, Mike Pace, Steve Aronsen, Kevin Recker, Alisa Kremer, and Lynn Sumner as well as the enthusiastic students (see Debate team list below). Their informed debates invigorated further discussions in the classrooms.


    On the following day, designated “election day,” the High School students voted. Once the student body’s mock votes were counted, the final tally resulted in Barack Obama winning 57% to McCain’s 43%--an interesting forecast of the change to come.

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