Hannah Lee is “Lee”ding Debate to a Whole New Level


Photograph Courtesy of Hannah Lee

Hannah Lee, in the center of the kids, started Hannah Debate to help middle school kids get engaged in debate. She sets up a friendly and interactive environment for her students, so they can learn and have fun at the same time. Over the time, she and her students have created bonds and enjoy working together.

Debating has been elevated to an entirely new level with senior Hannah Lee. Not only is she an avid debater, but Lee also strives to help everyone engage in debate and public speaking by creating her own debate academy called Hannah Debate. She hopes to instill a passion for public speaking in the younger generation to benefit them in the future. Lee’s aspirations for debate inspires her peers to understand the importance of communication.




The main focus of Hannah Debate is educating and encouraging middle schoolers to speak out and debate so that students are not intimidated by public speaking and can debate and participate in discussions and tournaments. Lee has organized an incredible system of instructional videos and lessons that are easily accessible online. Through Lee’s use of online resources such as Skype, her students are able to easily engage, discuss, and learn about the debating curriculum. By using Skype, Lee provides a fun and creative environment for the middle schoolers to learn in, making her academy unique, approachable, and revolutionary. However, not all of Lee’s lessons are technology-based. Lee also goes to middle schools within her community and coaches students personally, along with other mentors of the academy. “Hannah Debate allows high school debaters to teach younger kids in hopes of allowing them to enhance their communication skills. It is also an excellent way to pass on my passion for debate to the younger generations,” states Dana Chen, a junior at Beckman and a mentor for Hannah Debate. As an incredibly helpful and educational program, Hannah Debate goes to show how passionate Lee is about spreading her knowledge and impacting the community with debate.




The driving force behind the start of the academy was Lee’s interest in debate. Beginning her debating career in fourth grade, Lee thought it was the perfect way to face her fears of public speaking. Lee was able to cast aside her fears to realize how intriguing debating was. “Since I did it at a younger age, it helped me as an individual just to comfortably speak out,” Lee comments. Her interest quickly evolved into a passion, therefore, giving way to the start of Hannah Debate. From a nervous and scared fourth grader to a multi-talented senior, Lee has excelled in public speaking and debate.




Throughout her debating career, Lee has often noticed that students tend to avoid public speaking for years despite how crucial the skill is. Talented high schoolers were having trouble participating in class discussions and raising their hands due to the lack of confidence and sufficient public speaking skills. As a result, Lee geared Hannah Debate to focus on younger generations to help them escape from these future troubles. Lee remarks, “I wanted to focus on middle school students because at that age, students tend to be more adaptive, and are not as afraid and self-conscious while doing public speaking. Preparing and teaching students debate at a younger age creates a huge impact on their life; therefore, the younger they start, the better it is.” Lee understands and emphasizes the importance of communication at an early age, and wants to inform and prepare others to help them succeed in the future.




While dedicating much of her time coaching students, Lee maintains her skills and status as an avid debater. As a consistent finalist at many of her tournaments, Lee’s skill is nothing trifling. Her record is filled with numerous tournaments, always ranking semi or octa finalist. Even when she is not participating in a tournament, Lee finds the time to attend events as a coach. Whether Lee is participating in the tournaments or coaching others for debate, she will definitely be in the debate field for many years to come.




Lee’s passion for public speaking has done her immense good in debating but also has given her incredible opportunities as well. Last year Lee was nominated for the American League Auxiliary (ALA) Girls State, which is a prestigious program giving girls from all over the country an opportunity to engage in American government, politics, and leadership. Lee competed with all of Beckman’s girls, as well as five hundred others at the regional level. “It was a lot of fun in the sense that I met a lot of different people. I engaged in a mock government, and ran and campaigned for the position of lieutenant governor. I won my primary, but lost at the general, but even with that, the opportunity of getting myself out there, doing speeches, and campaigning was an experience that I will remember,” recalls Lee. Although she was not able to advance in the competition, her selection over every other girl at Beckman shows Lee’s skill as a scholar and a True Blue Patriot.




Despite a busy schedule filled with preparing, teaching, and coaching students, Lee also partakes in many extracurricular activities. She is the President of Junior State of America, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization in which Beckman students attend conventions and discuss politics and political issues. She has also been on Beckman’s Varsity Golf team for the past three years. Outside of school, Lee has been a Girl Scout for the past ten years and received a Gold Award last June for the startup of her academy, Hannah Debate. Her extracurricular activities show how deeply involved Lee is in debating.




In the future, Lee will definitely continue debating. She hopes to expand Hannah Debate to other middle schools within the community and district such as Orchard Hills Middle School. Lee does not want for the academy to just survive but to grow and expand through her successors Dana Chen and Gena Huynh. As a senior, Lee has applied for college with plans to get invest into her interests of history and politics while continuing debate.




With huge achievements under her belt Lee has achieved great heights in her debating career. What started as just an interest has grown and expanded into a successful and helpful academy. She is sure to succeed in any future endeavor as much as she has with debate.