There's bound to be a lot of talking when you put more than 1,000 teenagers together.
But Saturday and Friday, this was even more the case at Sylvania Northview and Southview high schools, which were host to students from across the state competing in one of the largest speech and debate tournaments in Ohio.
"It's one of the best there is," said Joe Long, the debate coach at Gahanna-Lincoln High School near Columbus, which brought 30 students to the tournament.
The Sylvania Invitational tournament had nine categories in speech and three in debate. It also had an event called Student Congress, in which competitors support or oppose hypothetical bills and resolutions, much as legislators do.
Southview debate coach Paul Moffitt said the fun weekend involved a lot of hard work that would pay his students some serious dividends.
"I really think this is the most valuable extracurricular activity there is," he said.
"It teaches them skills that instantly transfer to success in life. These skills will help them in job interviews and with scholarship committees.
"Every debater's research skill transfers into better paper writing and better critical thinking," he continued. "They learn to be better citizens and to be more open-minded."
There is nothing frivolous about the subjects being debated.
Topics this weekend included President Obama's plan to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, the morality of economic sanctions as a foreign policy tool, and whether increased social services for the poor are justified.
In one debate category called Lincoln-Douglas, debaters are supposed to have a good understanding of the philosophers John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant.
Danielle Goatley, a Southview senior who debated in the Student Congress category, introduced "legislation" calling for more congressional districts so their populations are more closely matched.
"There are big differences in the populations of some districts," she explained. "It can be as much as 500,000."
Her legislation failed to carry, she noted a little ruefully. "After a lot of talk, the decision was to maintain the status quo," she said. "We can debate for hours, but in the end, it's easier to have things stay the same."
In the same debate category, Christian Zwick, a senior at Louisville High School near Canton, spoke "in negation" of a proposal to withdraw U.S. funding for Israel.
He argued, successfully, that cutting off funds would weaken Israel and destabilize the Middle East. The bill, introduced by another student, failed.
Danielle said she was pleased that at least one of her proposals passed: a resolution to increase funding for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Danielle and Christian said debating had given them ideas about what they want to do after high school.
Danielle said she plans to study political science or psychology in college and perhaps go to law school.
Christian said career possibilities for him include government or diplomacy.
Viktor Barricklow, a Northview junior, said the speech competition's duo interpretation category was the event for him. In this category, a pair of students act out lines from a short play.
"It's a lot of fun," Viktor said. "You get very close to your partner."
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