Daniel Commander, ASMS Communications instructor, lead the ASMS debate team to success in the Singing River Classic in Pascagoula, Miss. this past weekend. Commander teaches a variety of communications classes and has been coaching the ASMS Debate team for two years now.
On Friday, two ASMS sophomores, Emma Joly and Elijah Velaski, competed as Public Forum debaters, a style of group debate, and Marcella Todd, ASMS sophomore, competed in Lincoln-Douglas, a one-on-one debate style. This was the first debate for Todd and Velaski.
“My first debate was very stressful but I’m so glad I went,” Todd says. “I learned a lot from each round and as time went on I got better and better. I will continue to do debate and I hope to improve even more.”
On Saturday, Salena Braye-Bulls, ASMS Senior, competed in Congressional Debate, a mock legislative assembly competition, Madeleine Dotson, ASMS Senior, competed for the first time in Extemporaneous Speaking and Program of Oral Interpretation, a performance combining Prose, Poetry, and Theater with a bit of nonfiction around a central theme (women’s body image), and Anuhska Sikdar, ASMS sophomore, competed in Novice Extemporaneous Speaking for the first time, which is a style of speech event which is focused on current events.
Salena Braye-Bulls, from Tuskegee, Ala., is a returning debater on Commander’s team and the only student who made it to the finals round in their section.
“In preparation for the tournament, Mr. Commander helped me refine arguments and practice rhetoric,” Braye-Bulls says. “At the tournament, I did congressional debate which involved discussing the positive and negative aspects of proposed bills. I spoke on topics of renewable energy, federal funding and animal cruelty!”
Madeleine Dotson, Senior from Baldwin County, Ala., is also a returning debater, and competed in a new style of debate.
“I pulled from several forms of literature to develop a program oral interpretation on body image and eating disorders,” Dotson says. “This was my first time competing in this event, and it really helped me learn how to take advantage of emotion in my speaking, whereas I normally compete in more logical or fact-based events. I’m excited to combine what I’ve learned with my normal debate style the next time I compete.”
Commander drove to Pascagoula the morning of the 10th to drop his students off with chaperones, to prepare for the debate. He then, drove back to ASMS to participate in our 1st session of ASMS Day, our uniquely styled open-house. After the 4 hour long ASMS Day, Commander drove back to Mississippi, to cheer on his students. With an instructor so dedicated to his team and this institution, it is no wonder why his students compete so well.
“They did a very admirable job, especially considering this was the first tournament for Elijah and Marcella,” Commander says. “The Saturday debaters all moved forward in their sections. Dotson made it to Semi-Finals, as did Sikdar! Braye-Bulls made it to Super Congress, the finals round in her section. I am very proud of all 6 competitors, as many of them were either competing for the first time ever or competing in a specific form of debate for the first time.”