Brainerd High School senior Kellen Riley's general knowledge of what's going on in the world has helped him become a better debater.
Riley won the Grand Rapids Debate Tournament last weekend and was named Fine Arts Student of the Week. Riley is on the high school's Lincoln-Douglas debate team.
Riley recently took second place in a debate tournament hosted in Brainerd. He also competed in tournaments in Eagan and Apple Valley.
The debate topic Riley argued in Grand Rapids and the topic he will argue in the next two months is, "The U.S. has the moral obligation to promote democratic ideals in other nations."
Riley said he does not have a strong viewpoint either way on the topic. Debaters have to be able to argue for and against the topic. He said not having an opinion makes it easier for him to argue a topic. He said if debaters have a strong belief, they may not be able to uphold their debate as well.
Riley spends about seven to eight hours a week studying a topic, which does not include the time he puts in during competitions.
The competition is what motivated Riley to join debate his sophomore year, as well as getting Fridays off of school, he said. Tournaments generally run Fridays and Saturdays.
Riley said his strength in debate is his general knowledge of news events. He learns a lot about world events in his advanced placement classes. By the time Riley graduates he will have taken 15 advanced placement classes.
One improvement Riley said he needs to make is his speaking style. He said he speaks quickly with evidence on what he believes is the truth.
"I go for the throat and some judges want you to be nice to your opponents," he said. "Judges like to hear more fluff."
Art focus: Debate
Art activities: Debate, Knowledge Bowl and mock trial
Favorite subjects: Social sciences
Most memorable fine arts achievement: Qualifying for the National Debate Tournament in Salt Lake City in 2003-04
Artist most admired: None
Favorite movie: "Oh, Brother Where Art Thou"
Favorite TV program: "Family Guy"
Favorite song: "Bohemian Rhapsody"
Parents: Ken and Janelle Riley of Baxter
Debaters are judged on their argument and their speaking skills, and Riley said he will sacrifice points on his speaking skills.
This season, Riley's goal is to break state and nationals. Last season he took second place in sectionals, 16th place at state and qualified for nationals.
Jenna Akkanen, senior, Fifth Street Journal: Akkanen's newspaper adviser said, "Jenna is a positive voice in the Fifth Street Journal. She has a great attitude and she is always willing to put in time as photo editor to better our paper."
JENNIFER STOCKINGER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5851.
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