Speech and Debate Club presidents argue for success


Graphic Tisya Singh

Junior Ajinkya Dhamdhere and Senior Charlie Hynes lead Speech and Debate Club to foster interest in public speaking.

Hannah Thompson, Staff Writer

With endless rebuttals and evidence, Speech & Debate Club co-presidents junior Ajinkya Dhamdhere and senior Charlie Hynes believe anyone can excel in making a strong argument. 

The co-presidents, who hope to make it to Nationals this year, ran for their leadership positions for different reasons: Dhamdhere hoped to fill an older sibling’s shoes while Hynes wanted to fulfill his interest in public speaking. They lead a club of approximately 20 students every Tuesday in activities to practice their public speaking and debate skills. 

In order to advance to Nationals, the Speech & Debate Club engages in local competitions—most recently, the Harvard Speech and Debate Tournament for Public Forum, a two versus two debate. 

“At this tournament, we participated in a debate, which required more time to gather research on what we will be debating as opposed to a speech tournament, where we don’t perform as much research beforehand,” Dhamdhere said. 

Within tournaments, students have the opportunity to make connections with speech and debate participants around the world. Now that COVID-19 has pushed competitions online, tournaments are open to anyone interested. 

“We compete against people from different countries such as Colombia and the Dominican Republic, which makes it difficult to win such large tournaments,” Dhamdhere said. 

In order to prepare members for such a match, Hynes and Dhamdhere utilize interactive activities to create an informative but enjoyable environment. 

“We try and make club meetings more fun and interactive so members don’t feel like it’s eighth period, which is why we play games such as the ‘um’ game, where members have to talk about a topic for as long as they can without using filler words such as ‘um’ to practice their public speaking skills,” Hynes said. 

The ARHS Speech & Debate Club was formed in 2016 and is open to anyone, even if they don’t believe they are knowledgeable about current events. 

“Competitions are usually politically-oriented with broad topics that anyone can compete in, such as ‘Should all illicit drugs be banned?” Dhamdhere said. “This opens the debate up to anyone.”

Hynes and Dhamdhere help members collaborate to prepare for debates on topics such as politics and economics.

“For competitions, the topics are released at the beginning of the month, so we have time to research the topic and find evidence we can utilize in a debate; it requires a lot of preparation,” Hynes said. 

As the season comes to an end, Hynes and Dhamdhere hope to continue recruiting new members to spread what they have learned over the past few years. 

“Speech & Debate Club can provide members with knowledge and experience from discussing topics you may not know much about, or learning how to properly rebuttal in a debate,” Hynes said. “We also connect with students with actual competitions which opens them up to new opportunities that they may not get elsewhere.”

If you are interested in joining Speech & Debate, email @[email protected] or @[email protected].