World War I Debate: 2017

Over the past few weeks, EGHS has been adorned by the flags and symbols of various European nations. They have covered the walls, the sidewalk, the rock, and even the sign at the top of Avenger Drive. Students have walked the hallways with their countries’ colors painted on their faces and on their fingernails, and even with flags tied in their ponytails.

However, upperclassmen know what all the hype is for: the annual sophomore class World War 1 Debate. Each year, the sophomores split up into countries: France, Germany, Britain, Austria-Hungary, and Russia. Over the course of a few weeks, the teams compete and debate to earn delegates for their country.

The first chance to earn delegates this year was with the Diplomacy board game. The point of the game was to earn the most supply ports in other nations. Members of each country competed against each other, creating alliances in order to take down enemies. Each place earned delegates for its respective country.

For the next few weeks, sophomores  researched various terms related to the war. Then, in their English classes, the parliamentary debates took place. Everyone debated whether or not they were for or against these terms and alliances. They argued how it impacted their country, and why the event/alliance was overall right or wrong. English teachers chose which team had won each round, and competing countries continued to earn more delegates.

Teams also explored many different viewpoints as to how the war could have started, trying to pinpoint every country but themselves with the blame. They combined the events and alliances they had studied during the parliamentary debates with broader ideas in order to create hypotheses as to who really was to blame for the war. The hot seat debates took place in both English and History classes. Each country was allotted ten minutes to state why they were not to blame for the war and to interrogate each country. The questions were designed to back others into a guilty corner. These debates often turned into heated arguments, hence the name “hot seat” debate.

Countries could also earn delegates through nationalism, which explains why the countries advertised  themselves across the grounds of EGHS. The country that demonstrated the greatest pride in their nation received extra delegates. Teachers ultimately decided that the nationalism winner was France.

The debate concluded with a League of Nations simulation. While each country had racked up their own amount of delegates over the weeks, they could still ally with other nations in order to ensure their success. When the dust settled, the alliance between France, Great Britain, and Germany beat out Russia and Austria-Hungary’s alliance. Though in the end only several teams were victorious, the WW1 debate was an exciting learning experience for all and united the entire sophomore class.


By: Emma MacDonald