Manual High debaters on why they do it, despite the nerdy stereotypes

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This week's cover story, "Say What?," tells the story of the Manual High School debate team and specifically, brother-sister debaters Theron and Teague Harrison. Westword hung out with the team all year, watching as they practiced and competed, and won and lost. Why do the students participate in debate? Here are some of the best quotes about that very subject that didn't make it into the story.

"Some people might say that debate is for nerds and for dorks and it's not a cool thing to do. But really, it's extremely cool... I look around and everybody is talking and everybody is laughing. It's extremely fun."
Scarlett Chavez, 16, Manual sophomore

"I just went, and seeing girls, I was like, 'Yes! It can't be too nerdy.'"
Kendale Bryant-Townsell, 16, Manual sophomore

"The argument we always come up against is that debate is not a sport. And we just tell them, it is a sport. It's just a mental sport! ...Most people in this school, they just haven't really seen a debate, so they're quick to judge it. But once they see that we're winning and stuff, they're like, 'Oh, that might be cool.'"
Kahdijah James, 16, Manual junior

"A lot of times in school, it is not cool to be smart. But it is not cool to be dumb in this room. This is a place to spit the most brilliant stuff."
Charlie Smith, Manual debate coach

"People think because I have dreadlocks and I wear bows... that I'm not as smart as them and it will be easy for them to beat me. But when I open my mouth and just spew infinite knowledge on their asses, they're like, 'Oh snap! She really is smart!'"
Jessica Keys, 18, Manual senior

"This is better than any sport. This is about the mind."
Cordellia Harrison, Theron and Teague's mom

More from our Education archive: "Nate Easley recall: Fake blog bashing him purports to be written by Easley himself."


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