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LHS’ Great Debate garners a great audience

Curt Stedron responds to Jon Saliman's case.

Curt Stedron responds to Jon Saliman’s case.

This afternoon, April 26, the LHS forum filled past seating room to watch teachers Curt Stedron, representing the conservative side, and Jon Saliman, representing the liberal side, debate a variety of political topics. A few members of Political Committee moderated with six prompts ranging in subject. After arguments and rebuttals from both sides, the moderators opened the floor for a few questions from the audience members towards the debaters. Students challenged both sides of each position, although Saliman certainly got more questions regarding gun ownership, while Stedron answered more questions regarding immigration policy.

“I liked hearing the questions from the students because it’s nice to see everyone thinking and forming opinions about what goes on around them,” said senior Meli Smith.

Freshman Abe Stokes asks Jon Saliman a question.

Freshman Abe Stokes asks Jon Saliman a question.

Especially considering that 2016 is an election year, the occurrence of such an event is certainly one way to get young people involved in politics. Political Committee had a voter registration booth in the lobby of LHS last week in another attempt to involve students with politics, but this event seemed to pique the public interest in a different way.

“I think that most of the people eligible to vote [there] probably aren’t registered. It’s really important to increase the involvement of the youth, though,” said Smith. “I have an interest in politics. Not for work or my future, but just to understand more about the place I live.”

The choice of teachers was particularly influential in the debate’s popularity. Stedron has coached the debate team in the past and is known for teaching unconventional classes such as film and Theory of Knowledge, but his part-time teaching has given him the aura of an enigma. On the other hand, Saliman is the current debate team coach and while he is known as an IB literature teacher, he also teaches classes such as American Lit and is involved in Student Council, making him a familiar face around LHS.

Jon Saliman responds to Curt Stedron's contingency.

Jon Saliman responds to Curt Stedron’s contingency.

“[Political Committee] thought having two teachers that everyone knows get up and debate relevant issues would be a great way for students to gain a better understanding without being bored,” said senior Chloe Cassio, the vice president of Political Committee. “We had an awesome turnout and people asked great questions that really challenged both Saliman and Stedron.”

The turnout and involvement in the debate demonstrated that students do care about politics, in contrast with popular opinion, and these kinds of events in the future will certainly be a success.