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Highland Rambler

Highland Rambler

Highland Language Arts Teacher Steps In As New Debate Coach

Hannah Pace
Tyler Bettilyon (left) and Creed Archibald (right) lead the debate class

Debate is one of the smallest sports at Highland, but it is also a sport that enhances the mind and exposes students to the power of knowledge and the power of their voices. Doing debate builds students’ abilities to research and argue a point effectively and to speak powerfully.

To keep the debate program at Highland going and allow students to continue learning and improving their ability to debate, Highland language arts teacher Creed Archibald stepped in as Highland’s new debate coach.

Back in December, Principal Jeremy Chatterton reached out to Archibald after learning that he had done debate in high school, inquiring if he was interested in taking on the position as Highland’s new debate coach. Archibald had done debate every year when he was in high school; he had enjoyed it but was still hesitant to accept the role at first.

“I remembered how much time commitment debate took and I wasn’t up for spending so many weekends away from my family,” said Archibald. “But when I realized there was an assistant debate coach, Tyler, [who is] really involved and can do a lot of the weekend stuff, I decided to get on board.”

Both Archibald and Emily Paxton, another language arts teacher at Highland, had really small language arts classes the same period. So, at the end of term two, the students in Archibald’s class joined Paxton’s class. This freed up a period in Archibald’s schedule that allowed him to take on the debate class.

As debate coach, he runs the class as well as does most of the administrative work for the team. During class, Archibald mostly helps students prepare for upcoming tournaments and organizes them into groups so they can go over their speeches. He is also in charge of signing the team up for tournaments and finding judges for them. For every tournament, the team is required to bring a certain number of judges proportional to the number of students they bring.

As for the weekend tournaments, the assistant debate coach, Tyler Bettilyon, is the one who travels with the team allowing Archibald to spend time with his family. Bettilyon is another Highland alum who also debated when he was a student. He and another Highland student won the Catholic National Champion, which was a big deal.

“He’s very involved in debate; he’s very intelligent and he loves it,” said Archibald. “This is something that he does on the side because he’s really passionate about it and believes that debate is something that really benefits kids.”

Students who do debate learn skills that other students don’t get in their regular classes. They learn to speak in public easily because they’re constantly doing it. Students also develop strong research and writing skills that give them a big advantage over their peers. When students walk into a debate, they don’t know what side of the issue they’ll be arguing—that’s decided with the flip of a coin. Having the ability to argue for something someone might not personally agree with is a valuable skill not only in debate, but also in the real world.

This year, there are about eighteen to twenty active members of the debate team ranging from freshmen to seniors. Archibald and Bettilyon are both planning to return next year and have many ideas and plans to help grow debate at Highland.

“I think that Highland has the student body and the potential to be a very competitive school when it comes to debate,” said Archibald. “Most tournaments have both individual awards—which we have people win—[and] team awards [which] we generally don’t win because our team is small. […] There’s no reason why Highland doesn’t have the capacity to beat Skyline or West and take regions or state.”

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