What Roosevelt senior Connor Munsinger practices in the debate room every single day are arguments in a case that has brought his team on the brink of national success. Debates like his don't usually happen in the typical high school classroom, but the debate room is far from typical.
"It allows people who are only 14 to 18-years-old to engage in really complex and intellectual discussions," Munsinger said.
These kind of discussions start in the early parts of high school for the 16 members of Roosevelt's team, starting a level of dedication that can include 80 hours a week worth of work.
"A lot of these kids spend eight weeks at debate camp over the summer, they dedicate their entire summer to learn more about debate," Director of Roosevelt Debate Luke Cumbee said.
That work has paid off for Munsinger and his partner in policy debate, Jaedon Kroger. They will be the first debate team in Roosevelt history, and only the second in state history, to compete at the Tournament of Champions, which features the best debate teams in the country.
"The big thing for the program, the program had never been recognized nationally as being any good at all, and now finally people are going 'Oh hey, these kids are kind of decent,'" Jaedon Kroger said.
It's a remarkable accomplishment for a program so small and with limited financial backing.
"Being a smaller squad with less access to resources and also not being able to travel to as many tournaments, we had a lot of constraints on the level of success that we could have," Munsinger said.
"They're going to be bringing bus loads of researchers to compete at the TOC, we're hoping to afford a van-load," Cumbee said.
They've accepted the role of underdog in their quest for national recognition, and they believe that other schools can follow their example.
"Recently there's been a lot of programs shutting down. I have heard of a few programs looking to get started up, and I hope that this can help inspire them to be like yes, they can be competitive at a national level, you just have to put in the work," Cumbee said.
The Roosevelt debate team is working to get Connor and Jaedon prepared for the Tournament of Champions, and that includes finding a way to support the trip financially. If you would like to learn more about how you can suppor tthe team, you can visit the Roosevelt Debate website.