Some of the best
high school debaters in the country are attending the National Kentucky High School Debate
Institute at the University of Kentucky through July 11.
Coordinated by UK
Director of Debate J.W. Patterson, this annual UK institute is the third oldest high
school debate camp in the country and one of only about a dozen hosted by a college or
university in the United States.
The three-week program, which opened June 19, has attracted 144 high school debaters
from around the nation. They are learning the theory and techniques of debate as well as
researching next years national high school debate topic, which deals with education
reform in secondary schools and is expected to be a popular topic among high school
During the institute, student debaters also will engage in practice rounds, and a
tournament will be held at the end of the session.
A unique aspect of UKs summer debate camp is Pattersons recruitment of top
high school debaters who will be seniors next year. They serve as Institute Fellows.
"These highly successful debaters serve as role models for the less experienced
debaters," Patterson said. Many of those Institute Fellows have participated in the
Kentucky High School Tournament of Champions hosted by UK each May. It is considered the
premier high school debating event in the country.
Patterson also has recruited a staff of college debate coaches and former college
debaters from around the country as faculty for the institute.
Institute fellows Daniel McKenzie of El Cerrito, Calif. and Andrew Rothschild of
Houston, Texas said they are impressed with the commitment of the staff at the Kentucky
National High School Debate Institute.
"This is a high quality camp for high school debaters. The staff is focusing on
improving every debater here," McKenzie said.
"These high school debaters of varying levels can all gain the extra polish to
elevate their skills," Rothschild said.
George Kouros, who recently graduated from Emory University where he was on the debate
team, is serving as an instructor at UKs debate institute. He also attended the UK
institute when he was a high school debater. He said the institute offers the students an
excellent opportunity to hone both their research and presentation skills.
"Ninety-nine percent of the work in debate goes into research. Speaking is
important, but if you arent prepared and havent researched all arguments on
the topic, you wont perform well," Kouros said.