Eight students from Bexley High School will participate in the state speech and debate tournament March 5-6 in Cleveland.

Eight students from Bexley High School will participate in the state speech and debate tournament March 5-6 in Cleveland.

The students qualified by performing well at the district tournament held earlier this month at Bexley High School.

Seniors William Oesterle and Matthew Kirschner took second place in public forum debate and went undefeated.

Oesterle said the public forum debate topic changes monthly. For the state tournament, students will debate the pros and cons of affirmative action. To get ready for the state tournament, students practice debating with the other team members and conduct research, he said. Oesterle spent about 10 hours researching his topic.

"I always enjoy arguing," he said. "It teaches you how to think and understand different points of view."

Kirschner got involved with speech and debate his sophomore year when Oesterle was looking for a partner. He enjoys being part of a team and also likes to argue.

Sophomore Maggie Flannigan and senior Evan Darwin took first place and were undefeated in public forum debate at the district tournament.

Darwin said he joined the speech and debate team because he was shy in elementary and middle school. "It has helped me become a better speaker," he said.

Flannigan only has lived in Ohio for a year and said she learns a lot by debating. "It is a nice way to meet people," she said.

Senior Zach Arace and sophomore Aaron Pelz also will compete in public forum debate.

To prepare for the state tournament, Arace said he reads a lot and participates in practice debates with his teammates. This is his first year on the team.

Pelz had two brothers who were on the speech and debate team at Bexley. He said joined to improve his debate skills, because he was tired of losing arguments at home.

Junior Alex Lange took first place and went undefeated in the district tournament in Lincoln-Douglas debate. He said Lincoln-Douglas is more philosophical than public forum debate. He likes to read a lot about his subject to prepare for his tournaments.

Senior Jesse Vogel will compete in original oratory. For that part of the competition, students are required to write and give an original speech. His speech is "about the importance of living in the moment, not just doing the things to get you to the next step."

Team adviser David O'Reilly said the Bexley speech and debate team has 20 members. Participants must qualify for the state tournament, unlike others that allow everyone to participate, he said.

The state tournament provides another opportunity for the students to test themselves.

"Everything we do is a learning experience, good and bad," he said.