By Aurora Horn–
Talk about multitalented! Alexa Murphy, Sleepy Hollow resident and current senior at The Masters School, in addition to being Youth Poet Laureate of Westchester County, has also been named to the USA Debate Team in World Debate. Of the 12 high schoolers on the team, Murphy is the only one from New York.
Murphy applied to be on this team in June and learned that she was a part of it in August. According to Murphy, a lot of people in the debate circle have known about the national team since elementary or middle school. “The team is kind of like debate folklore, in a way,” she said. “We get a slice of federal funding, we get to travel for free, it’s just this really, really big deal because you’re the people that represent the country in terms of speech and debate as a whole.”
“I got into [the national debate team] because I was at a debate tournament two years ago over the summer at Cornell,” Murphy said. “I won, and after one of the semi-final rounds, one of the people that judged approached me thinking I did a really great job and that they were really interested in me, and that they wanted to have me on the USA development team.”
The USA development team is similar to the USA debate team, but its purpose is to get debate to more schools and develop people to apply for the national debate team. After being a part of the development team for all of her junior year, Murphy applied for the USA debate team at the end of the year.
Murphy started debating when she was younger. “My mom enrolled me in speech and debate classes as a way of getting me out of my shell,” Murphy said. “It was always just a very casual thing for me in elementary and middle school. I was never competing on major circuits. But when I came to Masters, I really wanted the opportunity to compete and learn a lot more about debate, and so I started on the team here.”
One of the most valuable skills she learned from debate is the ability to argue. “It’s one of the most important skills that you can have,” she said. “It requires not just speaking aggressively, but genuine understanding and empathy for other people.”
Perhaps a few politicians could use some of those skills.