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Debaters Say They Should Be Funded The Same As Athletes

Let’s think of knowledge and logic as a sort of playing field. And let’s say, for a moment, that agile young brains are the bulging muscles of these “athletes.”

In that case, high school debate could be considered a sport.

Nothing would make Chad Duncan, Kristina Culnane and Rick Gorka happier. These Central Valley High School debaters would like to see their love, their passion, accorded the same respect - and funding - that conventional sports have.

“Debate is going to get you a lot further in life than most people will get in sports,” Duncan argues. He’s a senior and in his third year of debate.

Listen to the three career choices these three aspire to:

Duncan is going for either broadcasting or car sales. Culnane is headed into law enforcement, possibly the FBI. And Gorka is a politician in the making.

“It’s the essence of education,” says debate coach Marc Thielman. Students have to instantly apply their knowledge.

The current debate topic, for these Lincoln-Douglas debaters, is adolescents’ right to privacy versus adults’ right to know.

Culnane tells of being attacked by her opponent in a recent debate for using quotes from philosopher John Stuart Mills out of context.

“It turned out I was right, but she almost convinced me,” Culnane admits, with a smile.

At this point in the debate season, the CV team has plenty to be thankful for. They had at least two members, Gorka and Culnane, qualified to debate in the prestigious Pacific Lutheran University tournament at the end of January. They have 23 team members, many of them bright sophomores who should help the program prosper in the next few years. And they have an energetic, successful coach in Thielman.

They even have had some fund-raising success - they sold so much pizza, they began to outsell the regular cafeteria.

They also have expenses. For travel - Culnane and Gorka are going this weekend to the Heart of the Northwest tournament in Tacoma. For judges - “You can’t ask someone to judge kids all day, for 16 hours, with no lunch, and not expect to pay them,” says Thielman.

What they don’t have, they say, is the same kind of funding and audience support as sports attracts.

“I go to various things - basketball games, baseball games,” Culnane says. She and the other debaters would love to see fans cheering them on, too.

The next debate tournament for the Central Valley team is Dec. 12 and 13 at Shadle Park High School.

Good works, good causes

East Valley High School’s Student Oriented Community Service is combining two fund-raisers this evening.

A spaghetti dinner, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., will be held in the high school commons, benefiting the Valley Center of Sharing’s Christmas gift giving.

Also, a used book sale, from 6 to 8 p.m., will help the SOCS students raise money to help provide a heating system for an orphanage in Romania. The SOCS program has “adopted” the orphanage.

About 35 students are working tonight on the two events, said SOCS coordinator Lynn Lauer. Others have donated food and collected books from other schools in the district.

School board business

The Central Valley School Board has elected Patty Minnihan as its new president. The board recently undertook its annual reorganization. Craig Holmes became vice president, and Kay Bryant the legislative representative.

Neither the old nor the new

A recent East Valley School Board meeting had an empty chair. Veteran member Karen Cecil who lost her bid for a fourth term, stayed home. And so did newly elected member, Sue Wentz.

Apparently neither woman wanted to put the other in an uncomfortable position.

Wentz, the board member, will officially be seated at East Valley’s Dec. 9 meeting.

East Farms craft fair

The East Farms Elementary School PTSA will hold its annual Christmas craft fair today through Saturday.

The event includes entertainment, a craft area for children, book sale and pictures with Santa.

Hours are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. today, 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. The event takes place in the gym at East Farms, 26203 E. Rowan.

, DataTimes

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