Here is an article from the Ft. Leavenworth Lamp published May 10, 2012 about the Patton debate team’s first year in DKC:
A group of eighth- and ninth-grade students from Patton Junior High School managed to hold their own against high school students during the school’s first year of having a debate team.
Out of about 30 schools in the Kansas City area, mostly high schools, Patton’s team finished in second place. Additionally, Taylor Brunson, ninth-grader, was chosen to be one of five speakers at an awards banquet May 9.
The course was one of several new offerings that began this year for Patton students, intended to give them the same opportunities as high school students. Others included advanced placement and honors world history, for example. Sally Ketchell, English teacher, taught this year’s public speaking and debate class.
The school participated in DEBATE-Kansas City, a league comprised of urban schools in the Kansas City area. DEBATE stands for Developing Empowerment By Argument, Thought and Engagement, and the organization is a nonprofit affiliated with the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
Isaac Allen, program manager for DKC, said that studies have shown that students in Kansas City who participate in debate programs will graduate high school 95 percent of the time.
“There are a lot of students who may not be sports related, but have a competitive edge, they want to get out there and compete,” Allen said. “Debate offers that for kids.”
Allen has driven to Fort Leavenworth from Kansas City several times to assist with the implementation of the program. The organization has a base curriculum that teachers can use to build a debate program. The Patton team participated in eight debate meets during the academic year.
Allen said Brunson was chosen to participate in a debate demonstration at the awards ceremony. She argued in the negative in this year’s chosen topic, the space exploration of the planet Mars.
“We wanted everyone to have an opportunity to hear how good she is,” Allen said. “She has extreme poise under pressure, but she’s also thoroughly researched and makes the best arguments.”
This year’s class of about 10 students all said they loved the course. Many plan to take it again next year, and a few were glad that Patton offered the program because it is available in other military schools.
Emily Anderson, ninth-grader, said she and her classmates intimidated many of the older students, who seemed more serious about debate by doing good research, developing a good argument and presenting themselves well. They also chose not to do “speed debating” in which students try to cram a lot of information into their time slot.
“It’s a fun competition, it’s a game, and so we don’t do that,” she said.
Anderson said the judges often told their competitors to slow down.
“If you’re the person who cannot listen to a conversation without staying something, debate is for you,” said Ethan Richardson, eighth-grader.
Nicole Tennant, eighth-grader, joked that the class was a better way to argue with her mom. She’s learned how to argue instead of how to fight.
“It’s all about logical thinking and how to put together an argument,” she said.