In With the New: Forging Partnerships

This Saturday, August 19th, 2017, UTK Debate will host its inaugural high school debate camp at Clayton Bradley Academy in Maryville, Tennessee. As we anxiously await the camp on Saturday, it is important to explain the mission of both teams, what we will do throughout the day, and the lasting benefits both of our teams expect to receive.

About Clayton Bradley Academy

Clayton Bradley Academy is an integrated STEM learning institution, which currently includes pre-kindergarten through tenth grade students. According to CBA’s website, CBA was founded in the summer of 2013 with the intentions of developing their institution from kindergarten through 6th grade to the full pre-K through 12th grade curriculum in the year 2019. However, CBA states that their status as a STEM-focused learning institution has gifted them with enough talented applicants that they will likely beat their goal of expanding fully in the 2019 school year a few years early.

CBA’s academics, as explained by their website, pose their STEM education in accordance to the world’s ever-adapting technological workforce:

“STEM education is driven by problem-solving and discovery through individual exploration and classroom collaboration. Supported by a host of studies, STEM-focused education helps prepare students for a large percentage of the fastest growing occupations, many of which require significant mathematics and science preparation to successfully complete the job.”

CBA explains their academic mission as creating problem-solving, critically thinking students through incorporating a prolific technological environment in which students can intake every facet of a wholesome education while gearing up for a workforce which heavily relies on technology.

About UTK Debate

We are the Tennessee Speech and Debate Society, or UTK Debate, and we are the University of Tennessee’s only competitive debate team. Since our inception in the 2013–2014 debate season and academic school year, we have won 5 individual national championships in the International Public Debate Association (IPDA), and our past 4 national championships have come consecutively. Our mission as a student organization on the University of Tennessee’s campus is to promote free and open civil discourse on UT’s campus, and we work through several avenues to achieve this mission. For a more in-depth perspective into who we are and what we do, click here.

What the Camp is All About

On Saturday, beginning at 8am EST and dismissing at approximately 5:00pm EST, we will help teach the high school debate team at Clayton Bradley Academy and other surrounding debate programs public speaking skills, debate theory, and how to improve each debater’s approach to a case moving forward.

After we open the morning’s festivities with introductions and ice breakers, we will move into a breakout session regarding the most effective way to approach public speaking. In this breakout session, we will teach students how they should present themselves when speaking in front of others, whether in a debate round, business environment, or classroom presentation. In this breakout session, as well as in every breakout session, each of the three lessons will be taught concurrently, and the students at the camp will choose one of the three topics of the specific breakout session which they would like to learn about.

In the succeeding breakout session, the campers will have their choice to attend either a lesson on the art of crafting winning framework in a debate round, how to communicate with a debate partner, or advanced tips and tricks which the debaters can employ to give themselves a competitive advantage as they enter their tournament schedule. These lessons in the mechanics and theory of debate will provide CBA’s debaters insight into the importance of approaching the framework of a round with precision. Also, moving forward with the campers’ debate and professional careers, effective communication is paramount in completing a task successfully — whether that is winning a round or finishing a business project.

The Tennessee Speech and Debate Society prepping for cases at a tournament

Our final breakout session will conclude the morning’s activities in which we will offer campers the choice of either attending a lesson offering instruction into how to focus on providing tangible, credible evidence in relation to the claim they are making in a round, effective research strategies, or the art of persuasive rhetoric and intrinsic confidence when delivering a speech. Teaching the importance of focusing on supporting empirical evidence when making a claim stands both in accordance with the principles of CBA’s academic mission and the mission of employers in the workforce. In academia, the importance of making a claim backed by data, statistics, and numerous studies make the difference between an average student and an exceptional student, and the sentiment holds true when one enters the workforce. Also, we will help to teach the debaters at CBA to use the copious technological resources to which they are privy to their advantage by researching supporting evidence for the topic on which they are competing or speaking. Finally, rhetorical skills are of the utmost value in the quest of persuasive speaking, because one must retain and employ these skills in any business environment.

Scott Carpenter, Chief Deputy Public Defender in Knoxville, TN

After a speech by our keynote speaker, UTK Debate alum and Chief Deputy Public Defender of the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Offices Scott Carpenter, we will take a brief break for lunch and return for our afternoon session.

Our afternoon session will commence with a mock debate in Public Forum (PF) style debate, in which CBA’s debate team will have the opportunity to apply the skills which they learned from our morning breakout sessions.

Before the debaters begin, they will have assistance from each UTK Debate executive member to build a strong case, find evidence, and deliver their case with confidence.

Once the mock debate concludes, we will give CBA’s debaters pointers to fix what went wrong in the first round and engage in a discussion regarding the things they believed went well. After an informative session to correct flaws and hone the team’s skills, a second mock debate will be held in which CBA’s team will have the opportunity to correct mistakes and further ingrain good debate strategy. Afterwards, we will host a session on how CBA’s debaters can improve going forward and conclude the day’s activities.

Why Are We Hosting This?

There are several reasons we at UTK Debate and Clayton Bradley Academy have chosen to begin this partnership between our teams.

When asked why UTK Debate is hosting the camp, UTK Debate’s President Mickayla Stogsdill explained,

“Our team has been looking for years to host some sort of debate camp for high schoolers knowing that it would be a great opportunity to teach communication skills to up-and-coming debaters in the greater Knoxville community. This camp will provide meaningful analysis, discussion, and most importantly, discourse over several different topics for both novices and experienced debaters in preparation for their new season.”

When asked about the benefits which she believes CBA’s debate team should expect from our day together, UTK Debate President Mickayla Stogsdill states,

“In the short-run, the campers will learn invaluable tips and tricks which will likely lead to them winning more rounds and advancing further in tournaments. In the long-run, however, participants can expect to walk away with rhetorical confidence, strong research skills, and understanding fundamental aspects of debating both competitively and for day-to-day use.”

Next, when asked about the benefits he expects his team to take from the camp, Clayton Bradley Academy Head Coach Scott Hussey wrote,

“Debate fosters civic conversation; debate requires students to research and understand all sides of an issue rather than sticking to their own world-views. Debate teaches intellectual empathy. My hope is the camp encourages more students to engage in this life-changing extracurricular activity and East Tennessee debate becomes a nationally strong region. Further, I wish that the camp allows UTK’s Speech and Debate Society to meet local high school student and share with them the joy and challenges university debate provides.”

Ultimately, we hope that our lessons in speaking, debating, and researching will last throughout each campers’ tenure at CBA. As CBA’s academic mission is predicated upon critical-thinking and problem-solving through using technological advances, we are attempting to ingrain each of those skills through civil discourse. UTK Debate believes that the primary objective when participating in discourse is the quest for justified beliefs and an empirical understanding of the truths in the world, and critical-thinking creates the avenue for the problem-solving capability which enriched discourse provides.

Moving forward, our team looks forward not only to the goals explicated in the aforementioned statements, but also to developing a lasting partnership with Clayton Bradley Academy. We hope to continue to share the joy which collegiate debate affords and pass along the requisite skills to develop the future of competitive collegiate debate. In conclusion, we believe that giving back the lessons of our predecessors to our successors will make for a more prosperous future in both collegiate debate and society at-large.

The camp will be held from 8am to 5pm at Clayton Bradley Academy on August 19th. If you want want to register for this event, email Mickayla Stogsdill at to RSVP or receive any further details.

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