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Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

From Prep to Podium: Sophomore Avnit Kaur Lands a Spot at the State Debate Tournament

Sophomore+Avnit+Kaur+works+to+strengthen+her+case+with+her+speech+and+debate+teammates.+%E2%80%9CThe+thing+I+love+about+the+Lincoln-Douglas+style+is+that+we+have+to+debate+on+both+the+affirmative+side+and+the+negation+side+of+the+resolution%2C%E2%80%9D+Kaur+said.+%E2%80%9CIt+really+helps+you+think+on+both+sides+rather+than+being+fixated+on+one+idea.%E2%80%9D
Courtesy of Avnit Kaur
Sophomore Avnit Kaur works to strengthen her case with her speech and debate teammates. “The thing I love about the Lincoln-Douglas style is that we have to debate on both the affirmative side and the negation side of the resolution,” Kaur said. “It really helps you think on both sides rather than being fixated on one idea.”

After weeks of tireless preparation into the late hours of the night, it is finally the day of the speech and debate tournament. With sweaty palms and a heightened pulse, sophomore Avnit Kaur steps to the podium and faces the judges. She takes action and fearlessly presents her winning resolution. 

For Kaur, debate is more than just a competition. It is a journey of discovery, where hours of research and practice shapes her understanding of global events and also opens doors to represent Portola High at the state level. 

Kaur began Lincoln-Douglas debate four years ago in middle school. Lincoln-Douglas is a style of debate that exercises students’ rapid thinking skills. In each round, debaters argue both sides, since their side is chosen by chance on the day of the tournament, according to former debate club advisor Doris Schlothan.

“A strong debater is also someone who is a very confident speaker and who speaks clearly,” Schlothan said. “As an English teacher, I really appreciate and notice that they don’t just throw out articles, research, evidence and then expect the judge to understand. It is their job to explain the evidence and explain why the evidence proves their point and why it trumps the other side.” 

Kaur felt she needed to continue debating at Portola High after noticing improvements in her communication, critical thinking and research skills.

“When you’re debating a specific resolution, you get to compare how the new proposed policy or program can change the status quo and affect millions of people, whether that’s lifting them out of poverty or solving the effects of climate change,” Kaur said. “Plus, I’ve always loved speaking in front of others, so I felt like debate was really meant for me.”

Kaur first competed in the Orange County Speech League spring tournament to qualify for the state competition. With a record of 3-0, Kaur then competed in the state qualifiers tournament. State qualifiers are highly competitive with four preliminary rounds and two final, personal record based rounds, according to Kaur. Once again, Kaur went undefeated and advanced to the state competition.

“I’m really excited to compete at state because the best debaters from all over California are coming to the tournament,” Kaur said. “It’s really special for me to be doing this through my school, representing them and making them proud.”

Kaur’s fervent dedication and passion for debate often drives her to go above and beyond when preparing for her tournaments, according to her brother, senior Arjit Singh.

“Avnit’s the type of person who, if she wants to achieve something and if she sets her mind to it, she will get it done,” Singh said. “I’ve seen her with her late nights practicing debate, making her cases, timing her cases, making sure it’s perfect for the tournaments. There’s never an off day with her because she always has that mindset of continuing to grind and doing as much as she can to fulfill her full potential.”

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About the Contributors
Alice Ahn, Social Media Team
Alice Ahn is the co-social media manager for her first year on the Portola Pilot. As a new staff writer, she feels honored to have her work on newspaper pages and the internet for the very first time. Apart from proofreading her own writing an unhealthy number of times, Alice frequents novels with entrancing titles but mediocre plots. She wants to make the most out of not only this school year, but also her Spotify Premium subscription, and would love to hear any of your music recommendations.
Maitri Allani, Media Director
Maitri Allani is the Media Director and a Business Manager for her second and final year of Portola Pilot. She loves to write and read, especially horrible romance books. She is extremely bisexual and an avid fan of Women’s soccer. She spends her time watching TV and sleeping. Computer science is her passion and she can code with Python, HTML, and Java. She is usually jamming out to Bollywood songs, BTS and Taylor Swift.
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