A Day in the Life of a Virtual Debater: Margaret Fear’s Story


Margaret Fear + Workspace

Margaret Fear, a national topic debate competitor in 9th grade, has swapped her team practice room for a debate workspace at home during this unusual season.

Since March 2020, all of our programs’ debaters have made the transition to online debate. Have you wondered what it’s like to make the adjustment from in-person tournaments – with bus rides, pizza, and packed auditoriums – to debating from home? Learn more about one debater’s experience with this guest post from Margaret Fear, a 9th grade student at Washington Technology Magnet School:

Meet Margaret 


My name is Margaret Fear. I’m in ninth grade, and I debate at the novice level for Washington Technology Magnet School. This is my first year doing high school debate, but I also did middle school debate for two years.


I started middle school debate because I was looking for an activity to do, and to be honest, debate was the only one I was even slightly interested in. My friends were also interested, so that probably helped too. I continued to participate in debate since I enjoyed improving my presentation ability and learning new skills. Debating helps become more confident in public speaking. 


I continued to debate this year because I got a bit bored at home and wanted something to do. I have read and baked a lot more since quarantine started. I have read over fifty books this year, which I am so happy about, and I have learned many new things to bake, including many types of bread, macarons, and a few cakes. I have also painted and crocheted.


What’s A Virtual Tournament Like?


A tournament day is pretty low key for me. We usually meet quickly as a team (virtually) before the tournament to make sure everything is setup and functioning, and then just wait until the debates start. My workplace set up is a bit cluttered, but it works for me. I have my laptop at one side of my desk, and my evidence at the other. I usually flow on post it notes, because it seems to work a bit better for me to have one post-it per speech. 


In my opinion, there aren’t too many big differences between online and in person debate, other that online debate being slightly less convenient. I do appreciate being in my own space, which makes me more comfortable while debating, but it is a bit annoying if the audio cuts out during a speech, or if my family is being a bit loud. Even though I like debating in my home, I do miss debating in person because it is a fun environment.


I miss actually being with all my teammates, because we were able to talk more and get to know each other more. I also miss talking with our opponents and judges. 


Finding Silver Linings This Season


Criminal justice reform is a good topic. It is quite relevant and interesting, and there is a lot to learn. Last year, in middle school debate, our topic was Mars exploration, which while the topic was a bit interesting, there really wasn’t too much relevance in the news or in my life to make me really interested. Arguing the abolition kritik when I am neg is my favorite argument to debate with.


On Saturday at the Tamar Kaplan Invitational, my partner Adrian and I were the champions of the novice division. My experience during that tournament was pretty fun. I think we did so well because we have improved a fair amount throughout the season. Also, I think we did fairly well on our Cross-X and rebuttals, which really helped us win our debates. It felt pretty good to do well. Though I know I can debate fine, winning just one debate can help me feel like my work paid off.


The coaches I work with are really great! Everyone on the team is really nice and they always help with questions.  I want to shout out Mr. Quosig and Maddy, the two coaches who are really great teachers, Mason, who is on the team and is really helpful with the questions I have, and Adrian, who is really fun to debate with!


What’s Next? 


My goal for the next few debate competitions is to win around half of the debates I compete in. I am going maverick for the next debate tournament, and I am a bit nervous, so I don’t know if I’ll meet my goal, but I am definitely going to try.



Margaret will compete at this weekend’s JV/Novice State Tournament. Let’s wish her the best of luck, and congratulate all the students who are persisting and debating during this unusual season! You can ensure the debaters in our spring programs have access to virtual debate with a year-end gift.