Debate and Forensics Coach Learns Through Experience

Grace Randall, Student of Journalism

The current presidential debates that many of us watch are filled with character assassinations, interrupting and transparent lies; in other words, nothing like a real debate should be.

Mrs. Andrea Peterson-Longmore is the forensics and debate coach. Her first steps into the debate circle as a coach and many times after that have her listening to polite, respectful debates by high school students about many topics, including politics.

As a math teacher who hasn’t had experience as a debate coach as a student, she doesn’t think about coaching debate until a student approached her asking her to. She agrees and finds herself loving listening to the students talking. From her previous job, she moves on to Neenah High School and expresses interest in the job. 

She gets it.

 Though the beginning is a bit rough, with help from assistant coaches, other coaches, and experienced students, both teams start to flow from rapids into streams. Through debate and forensics, she meets many people who help her and her students learn to refine what they do know and learn what they don’t.

When she started, “(she) knew nothing about forensics, but I figured I would be able to learn about it over the course of my first season.” But in the next four years, she starts to take up leadership positions within the state: District 9 chair for WHSFA (forensics), Northern Wisconsin district committee member for NSDA (debate and forensics), and new coaches chair for WDCA (debate).

In the end, what Mrs. PL likes most about both debate and forensics is learning. She finds that if you are the smartest in the room, that you need to find a new room. If you’re not learning, the room you’re in may as well be empty.