On Feb. 10, tenth-graders Sahil Pankhaniya, president of the Young Republicans club, and Foster Swartz, president of the Pine View Democrats club, brought together club members to host a public debate in school. The event took place during eighth and ninth period in the auditorium, while students spectated.
The five topics that the discussion focused on were immigration, gun control, health care, minimum wage and education. Two representatives from each club stood together to defend their respective political party’s positions, with each delegate presenting an opening statement. Then each student would take turns either supporting their position, refuting a statement made by their opponent, or asking a question for their opponent to answer.
History teacher John Schweig mediated the debate, allotting representatives a limited amount of time to prepare themselves for discussion, give a statement, or pose a question.
“It was a great experience for the students who debated, to have to test their ideas in front of an audience. I think everyone involved probably feels that the only change necessary would be more time allotted for each subject. It’s so difficult to make a convincing argument in one and a half minutes,” Schweig said. “For the twenty kids who spoke, it’s another step in making them more powerful public speakers and potential politicians.”
This was the second time a political debate had been held on campus, with the last one having occurred several years ago during the 2012 presidential election. Jeremy Kemp, the previous leader of what was called the Students for Obama club, graduated in 2013, and after that, the club disbanded to be revived last year.
“The debate was held to inspire heightened interest in both our club meetings and the political atmosphere in America as a whole. My expectations for the debate were more than overwhelmed by the amount of students who attended and the amount of questions I was asked regarding the topics afterwards,” Swartz said. “I’ll just have to hope that the two clubs can collaborate in the future and continue Pine View’s legacy of being involved in our society as much as we can.”