For Ganer Newman, director of Western Kentucky University's Forensics Team, the start of each school year means rebuilding. 

"Every year we graduate a group of our senior leaders," he said. "Every single season we start over with a new leadership dynamic on our team."

And this year is special, Newman said, because WKU President Gary Ransdell is retiring. 

"We always want to honor what the administration does for us and what the community does for us," he said. 

The speech and debate team welcomed a dozen new members this year, bringing the team to 40 students from 14 different states and 24 academic majors. 

The team begins its season Sept. 16 when it hosts the annual WKU/Alumni Fall Swing Tournament and the Alexis Elliott Memorial Lincoln-Douglas Round Robin debate tournament. 

Students are building arguments and honing their voices to continue last year's success. 

In the 2015-16 season, WKU become national champions at the National Forensic Association's National Tournament and the NFA's Lincoln-Douglas Debate Team Sweepstakes. The team also won the state championship – the 24th such victory its had – and finished second in the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament. 

Students will travel almost every weekend from mid-September to the end of the competitive season in April. Bradley University is hosting the AFA Nationals this year from March 31 to April 3 and the NFA Nationals are at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire from April 13 to 17. 

"The fact that our community knows and appreciates what the activity of forensics can do for students, that support really encourages our students to give their best," Newman said. 

Debate Director Jessica Furgerson said students are working on arguments for and against this year's resolution: whether the U.S. government should reduce the role of its military in Latin America. 

Furgerson said 11 students in particular concentrate primarily on debate and compete in tournaments. 

Debate requires students to dig deep into existing research on the topic, she said, going beyond internet sources. 

"It teaches them to really develop their research skills and to read things they probably wouldn’t be exposed to," she said. 

— Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.

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Education reporter. Covers education and related issues, focusing primarily on the Bowling Green and Warren County public school districts and Western Kentucky University.

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