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Central has debate team for the first time since 2012
October 4, 2021
For the first time in nine years, Omaha Central High School has a debate team, and a brand new coach to match. Aarron Shurevich was born and raised in Fremont, Nebraska, where he first became involved in debate as a student in high school. After serving as a student teacher at Millard West where he worked as an assistant coach on his debate team, he became the head debate coach at Millard North. When Shurevich began his first year as debate coach at Millard North, there were seven students in the team. By the end of his first year there were 35. When he left Millard North due to his concerns about returning to Millard given the school district’s handling of the ongoing pandemic, the team included over seventy debaters and had won six consecutive state titles.
After securing a teaching position at Central however, his initial intention was not to go back to coaching debate. “When I came to Central, my original plan was that I was done with debate, I just needed to take time away because I was burned out. But, when I moved, it felt like that passion came back a little bit, it was much more of what I’d loved about debate years ago”. As Central had not had a debate team since 2012, Shurevich had to restart the club himself. A major influence on his decision to bring debate back to Central is his wish to honor the memory of Seth Rich, the last Central student to qualify for debate at nationals, and was tragically murdered in a mugging in 2016.
Speaking on the benefits of debate for students who participate in the new debate club, Shurevich said, “Debate is transformative first and foremost, it is something that can make you think differently, it can make you a better critical thinker. Critical thinking skills are so important, in a world where we’ve got folks who deny the efficacy of masks and vaccines during a global pandemic it highlights the necessity of people who can evaluate information in a critical way. Debate is life-altering activity and in a lot of ways a life-saving activity, for me debate was one of the reasons I graduated high school, it was the thing that got me out of bed in the morning when other things wouldn’t and, if nothing else I want an activity that did that to me to be there for another pain in the butt student like I was that might need the one thing that can get them there.”
While debate has only just begun, Shurevich has already expressed his enthusiasm for the group of students that have joined, “Even with everyone being brand new, I think we have a really good shot at placing like top five [at state] right out of the gate. I think it’s a genuine possibility that the amalgamation of people we have right now is already going to be at a high enough level, starting out in the season we could do some damage at tournaments right away, and that is really exciting to me.”
The students that have joined the debate team thus far have similarly expressed their tentative excitement for the year ahead. Sophomore Valur Jaksha said, “I think we’ll do pretty good, because debate has a lot to do with your ability to write an argument and how to form it, and we have a really stellar English department going on here so that should be good, not to mention Mr. Shurevich is experienced, so I don’t think we’re going to win state or anything but I don’t think we’re going to be pulverized.” Echoing similar sentiments, sophomore Izzy Walocha remarked, “I have no previous experience with debate, but I’m excited to learn and hopefully keep doing it till I graduate.”
When asked about his advice to any Central student currently considering joining the debate team, Shurevich said, “I’d tell them there’s not any pressure, drop by and see what it’s like, and if they hate it, I’ll just wave at them at tell them that it’s great to see them, but I’m not going to hold anyone hostage. Debate is a time-consuming activity, it is an activity that takes a lot of intellectual and emotional investment, but if you get there and go ‘Oh man this is pretty cool, this feels like the kind of place for me’, it’s going to be the kind of place you develop a connection to, friends you might not have never met, everybody comes together, everybody’s pulling for each other, and everyone is pulling for the whole community.”