Truman Debate Team Takes Regional High School Crown

Truman debate team takes regional crown
TEXT SIZE By: Joan Hellyer
Bucks County Courier Times
The team competes in four scholastic leagues and numerous individual tournaments.

Amy Fox follows a specific plan of attack whenever she gets into a debate.

"You have to read the judges," said Amy, 17, a member of Harry S Truman High School's debate team.

She's learned how to read their faces, figure out if they're serious, easy-going or somewhere in between to determine what they're looking for in the contest.

Then, Amy said, she adjusts her argument according to what she reads in their faces.

The tactic proved to be fruitful recently when Amy teamed with Truman junior Allyson Cornwell to win first place in the policy debate division of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Debate League championship.

Their victory, as well as Makenzie O'Neal's first place finish and Shane Ennis' second place finish in the student congress division, helped the Truman team capture the regional championship.

Several other Truman students finished near the top in their respective divisions to help the Bristol Township team earn 52 points overall in the 13-school competition. Centennial, Council Rock and Neshaminy students also earned honors in different contest areas, organizers said.

Debate Club is a nearly year-long activity for more than 40 Truman students. They begin early in the fall, meeting most afternoons to prepare arguments and develop the ability to argue a point or participate in the oral and dramatic interpretation divisions of competitions.

The teens are guided by coaches Carl Grecco, Shawn Eliason and Tom Gushue. Eliason and Gushue are Truman graduates who learned the ins and outs of debate from Grecco.

The Truman students also participate in the Philadelphia Catholic Forensic League, the National Forensic League, the Pennsylvania High School Speech League and numerous individual tournaments, organizers said.

They said the goal is to qualify for state competitions and beyond, which are scheduled between March and June. But they've also reaped benefits from their work in the classroom.

"I've learned so much (from debating) that my advanced placement government is like a breeze," said Greg Scott, a Truman junior who was a semi-finalist in the policy debate regional division.

Joan Hellyer can be reached at 215-949-4048 or

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