There’s no arguing this point: Debater state’s best |

There’s no arguing this point: Debater state’s best

Carrie Click
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Anybody wanting to debate Jacob Ziemann had better be very, very prepared.

Ziemann, a junior at Glenwood Springs High School, was crowned the state champion in debate for all 4A schools in Colorado at this year’s state speech competition, which took place Jan 31-Feb. 1 at Heritage High School in Littleton.

Ziemann is one of a dozen Glenwood Springs High students who qualified to compete at the 2003 State Speech Festival/Tournament, which drew more than 400 students from 30 schools all over Colorado.

At the festival, drama and speech high school students competed in 10 categories, ranging from creative storytelling to impromptu speaking. Ziemann competed in one-on-one value debate, where two students are paired to debate an issue.

Students have only 30 minutes after they’re given their topic to think through and prepare for their debate, “using rhetoric and logic, and not whether the issue is right or wrong,” Ziemann said. They’re judged by a panel of attorneys, accountants and judges.

Ziemann debated four times, against four opponents on four topics, in just one day to move through the finals and claim his state title. Gayla Rowe-Gaddis, Glenwood High School drama and speech coach, said Ziemann started around 3 p.m. and didn’t finish until 10:30 p.m.

Ziemann said he memorized about 30 quotes to prepare for state competition – quotes from Thomas Equinas, Gandhi, Thoreau and Emerson, he said – that he could use to back up general principles of debate, no matter what the topic.

All this comes naturally to Ziemann.

“With Jacob, it’s innate,” said Rowe-Gaddis.

Ziemann said crafting a lively argument is part of family life.

“I don’t often share the same views as my parents,” he said with a laugh, admitting he’s “pretty conservative.”

“Last night we were talking about the possible war in Iraq. My dad is pretty liberal in his ideology,” he said.

Ziemann grew up in Europe, living in Holland, Germany, Turkey and Italy, before moving with his family to Glenwood Springs four years ago.

“My dad was an Air Force medical officer,” Ziemann said of his multi-cultural upbringing. “That’s why I’m pretty strong in debating foreign relations. I can offer a lot more perspective because of my background. I’ve been there. I’ve seen it. At one time, we lived 20 minutes from Kosovo.”

Ziemann said he was a little nervous anticipating state competition, but not because he was afraid of speaking in public. That’s never really been a problem.

“That doesn’t really scare me,” he said. “I was more nervous that I wouldn’t win.”

Now, with the state title firmly his, Ziemann is moving on to other areas.

This week, he was headed to Colorado Springs to compete in the state championships for high school mock trials (Glenwood won). He’s also involved in Future Business Leaders of America, and the high school’s golf and baseball teams.

And Ziemann’s plans for the future post-Glenwood Springs High School?

“Law school,” he said with a big grin.

“I’d like to go to a small liberal arts school like Carlton in Minnesota or Claremont-McKenna in California and major in economics or history, then possibly attend Columbia Law School.”

And there doesn’t seem to be much debate about that.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

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