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Despite the team's first year, MLK's debate team is on its way to a successful future.

MLK's debate team is part of the Nashville Urban Debate League, a growing non-profit organization which hosts an annual tournament in which the top debate teams from each district compete in major cities. The only requirements are that participants are well prepared at practice and debates. "I don't have to do anything to get them ex-cited, actually. They have been excited in general," said Mrs. Christi Williams, a seventh grade Language Arts teacher and the teams sponsor. Mrs. Williams, a former teacher at East Literature High School, had no interest in participating in debate in high school. Her inspiration for starting the debate team stemmed from a conversation she had with a fellow teacher at a workshop. Despite not having to excite them, freshman Bille Dahir still feels a sense of apprehension, as before his first competition. "I was extremely nervous," said Dahir. "I feel like my partner did better." Dahir said that on the car ride to the competition, he and his partner, fellow freshman Jordan Wayburn, crammed in preparation. Sophomore Issam Bahour also felt the pressure of the first competition. "You get nervous at first, but then you get used to it," said Bahour. He and his partner, sophomore Zaheer Choudhury, debated on reducing the amount of troops in North Korea and Japan. At competitions, the teams advocate for and against a resolution calling for a change in pol icy by the federal government, otherwise known as policy debate. The competition consists of eight-minute constructive arguments, five-minute rebuttals, and three-minute cross-examinations.

School teams receive points by judges based on diction and organized arguments. At the end of the year, the highest ranking teams get to de bate in Washington, D.C. The team practices using strategies similar to Mock Trial. Mrs. Williams emphasizes the art of note-taking, or flowing, or remembering what opponents are saying. Despite whether the team "wins" or "loses," the experience leads to opportunities that extend beyond high school. Urban debate leagues improve literacy rates and increase graduation rates. Mrs. Williams takes pride in the lasting effects that debate teams leave on her students. Participating in debate leagues improves critical thinking skills, and knowledge of social sciences. Just like athletes, student debaters can receive scholarships to schools such as Emory University. "I like that students can see the benefits in participating on a debate team," said Mrs. Williams. One aspect Mrs. Williams doesn't like is what she calls "the revolving door,or the constant change in participants. However, she under- stands time constraints and students' outside obligations and can sympathize. The debate team recently competed at the end of August against Hillwood High School. Dahir and Wayburn competed in the beginner division, winning 7th place as a team. The team competed against McGavock High School on September 24. The teams competed against various schools including McGavock High School, Antioch High School, and others. Other participants included sophomores Sierra Greene and Emma Fischer and freshmen Camron Shirkhodaie and Samuel Rafter.