Mock Trial vs. Debate: North Atlanta’s Preeminent Public Speaking Prospects


Ella Kaufman

Proficient Public Speakers: Debate co-captain Curran Mitra coaches senior Mckenna Weinbaum, a competitor in preparation for the upcoming in-person policy debate.

Calling all public speaking fanatics! If you have long enjoyed trivial family debates and endless arguments with your siblings, chances are you’ve given mock trial or debate a thought. Both clubs thrive in the extracurricular sphere at NAHS and give students an invaluable opportunity to improve their speaking and practical academic skills. Whether you are trying to decide which team would be the best fit for your strengths, or are simply interested in learning about the foundations of spectacular argumentative skills, hearing what engaged Dubs enjoy about the respective teams will certainly narrow down your search.
The debate team is a highly-coveted club, inspiring the next generation of oratorically-skilled students whilst allowing members to excel in collaborative endeavors. Oriented around monthly policy debates, members become experienced in the affirmative and negative arguments of some of the nation’s leading political discussions, such as mass incarceration in the 2020-2021 school year, or this year’s environmental justice on water policy argument. This format of competition has helped students develop holistically. “Debate has helped me organize my thinking, elevate my speaking abilities, and be more articulate in my 4 years on the team,” said senior and co-captain Curran Mitra.
During the previous school year, Dubs debaters were working diligently to craft a well-rounded argument to dominate their competition… online, but this year, Captains Curran Mitra and Ava Tomlin, and team members alike are grateful for the upcoming in-person debates set to begin on October 23rd. Regardless of the format, debaters are able to improve valuable skill sets without an overwhelming time commitment. “Since I had never done debate in-person before, I felt like the virtual competition was a nice transition into getting accustomed to the packet without the added stress of in-person debates,” said junior and second-year debater Macy Margulius.
If you feel more aptly oriented to leading the life of a lawyer in court, arguing your case for a judge in a courtroom-esque competition, Mock Trial may be for you. Similar to debate in an organizational sense, selected members, composing a 12-person team, spend a year preparing prosecution and defense components of true trial. Three elected witnesses and attorneys lead case construction, write questions, and create witness statements to craft the strongest argument possible, with the help of a supportive volunteer attorney. “It’s nearly a theatrical production,” said attorney and witness Olivia Schramkowski. “A prepared team has well-developed characters, making strong objections and qualifications to support or refute the case.”
A significant responsibility that is taken on by resolute mock trial members is the bi-weekly, 1.5-hour time commitment after school, rising to tri-weekly, 2-hour practices the month before the first competition. NAHS members are committed to crafting a strong and testifiable presentation and will go to far lengths to defend their sweet sixteen state title. “Having good presentation, hand motion, and tone variation skills is crucial to maintaining a competitive score during competitions,” said attorney Lilia Bohtinsky. “We work so hard to have a commanding presence in the courtroom and be interesting. These are hard skills to grasp.”
Both debate and mock trial teams prepare students for professional speaking and collaborative capacities while fostering healthy competition skills and commitment to improving their craft. You are sure to play a pivotal role in developing strong rhetoric for your case or argument whether you choose to affiliate with the quick-witted debaters or the sharp mock trial members. Regardless of the chosen team, there is one thing we know for sure: These astute Dubs are guilty of absolutely dominating their competition with unmatched skill and NAHS spirit!Mock Trial vs. Debate: Public Speaking Prospects Showdown