Student Congress a day-long event
By Dan Whitney
There was an NFL event held here in Cherokee on March 29, but don't worry, you didn't miss an appearance by Brett Favre, Randy Moss, or Tom Brady, because it wasn't THAT NFL, but rather the National Forensic League - the unsung, underpublicized debate team.
The National Forensic League is the nation's oldest and largest debate and speech honor society. Since their founding in 1925, they have enrolled over 1 million members in all 50 states.
The NFL once again held their statewide Student Congress in Cherokee Saturday, hosted by Washington High School's debate coach Jessie Van De Walle and assistant coach Angela Rupp.
The Student Congress is "individual debate in a large group setting," according to the National Forensic League website. Legislative debaters research and write pieces of Congressional legislation that they feel will better the society in which we live. At a tournament, debaters then speak on the legislation while using proper parliamentary procedure. Judges score each competitor, based on argumentation ability, speaking technique, knowledge of parliamentary procedure, and overall participation.
There were 16 schools at Saturday's Congress - Ames, Ankeny, Fort Dodge, Des Moines Lincoln, Okoboji, Des Moines Roosevelt, Spencer, Cherokee Washington, Des Moines East, West Des Moines Valley, Newell-Fonda, Sioux City Bishop Heelan, Sioux City West, Sioux City North, Sioux Center, and West Des Moines Dowling Catholic.
Cherokee Washington High School Superintendent Dr. John Chalstrom gave the opening address, in which he acknowledged the lack of publicity the forensic organizations generally receive, despite the students' hard work, citing the students from the Des Moines schools' rising early to head out for Cherokee at 4 a.m. as an example. Chalstrom stressed the importance of forensic skills in everyday life - no matter what occupational field one enters - and stated that he feels his own forensic training at Fort Dodge High School has served him well as an adult.
Following the retiring of the colors, the students were dismissed for Session I, with the members of the Senate meeting in the Washington High School Library, the members of House A in Room 15, and members of House B in Room 8.
Following a lunch break in the school Commons from noon-1 p.m., the House and Senate reconvened for Session II, which ended with a Senate vote at 3:30 p.m.
The following awards were presented at a 4:15 p.m. ceremony (Note: 'qualifiers' qualified for the National Student Congress in Las Vegas) :
Qualifiers - CJ Miller Okoboji and Kelsey Klemme, West Des Moines VAlley
1st Alternate - Sarah Dillard, Spencer
2nd Alternate - Nicole Westergaard, Newell- Fonda
3rd Alternate - Conor Schenck, Ankeny
Qualifier - Zoe Russell, Ames
1st Alternate - Andrew Arbogast, Sioux Center
2nd Alternate - Dakotah Johansen, DM Lincoln
3rd Alternate - Charlie Bass, Bishop Heelan
Qualifier - Andrew Heidersheidt, Ankeny
1st Alternate - Arthur Cho, Ft. Dodge
2nd Alternate - Chris Miller, WDM Valley
3rd Alternate - Ben Robey, Dowling Catholic