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My high school calls its students the Cavaliers, and much like the Cavaliers in history – that is to say, the supporters of Charles the First – we are not popular amongst most of the county, and not very successful in our endeavours. Our sports teams are strong enough to promote the whispering of a sense of unity and pride among the apathetic, bourgeois students, but beyond the sports teams and the incredible tech department, the Cavaliers have very little to be proud of. We have a small smattering of other clubs and teams, but they are often overlooked. Writing about the goings on in the school for the local reporter, I was given the order to write about the sports teams and major school events, with no mention of any other teams, because the supporters of the Cavaliers do not have reason to care of our television crew's latest episode airing, or our debate team's biannual competition at the university a half of an hour away. I only knew of them because I was involved. While my school is largely apathetic to the existence of its nonathletic aspects, I have had the pleasure of working with a Cavalier who is passionate, clever, and free-thinking. My debate partner is a strong individual who rises above the label of our school, and I consider myself lucky to work with her.

I can not imagine walking into the competition with anyone else. I met Elyse in ninth grade gym class, and I will be the first to admit I was not immediately impressed. She was another girl just the same as those who ostracized me in grade school in my mind. In tenth grade, we were in the same English class, and we would discuss essays with each other, but we did not really become friends until grade eleven. I encouraged her to join the debate team early in the semester during Functions class, and we decided to be debate partners. Quickly, we fell into the swing of it. We trusted each other. And finally, chilled by the November air, we walked into the university nervous. We exchanged quick comments apologizing for whatever horrible mistakes we would make, joking about how to react if one of us passed out. And our anxious chatter, however pessimistic, was precisely what I needed. I was shaking like a chihuahua in Alaska on our way to the first debate of the day, but I could not think of anywhere I would rather be or anyone I would rather be with.

Throughout the day, Elyse was there to support me. We shared our victories and laughed over our defeats. We pored over the details of our debates. And once, after our third debate, we walked into the common room where we found our pairings, and those in the room fell into a hush. With amazement, we realized they were talking about us. She stopped me from feeling self-conscious. I must admit I was not so supportive. I tried to be encouraging as she was, but it is not in my nature to be particularly comforting. There is no way to return the favour when someone is so kind to you, you simply have to accept their infinitesimal pleasantness and appreciate it. I appreciate Elyse's support and encouragement greatly.

As well as being a friend, Elyse is also an incredible debater. Debate is no solo sport. Having a reliable partner or team is imperative, and thankfully, not something I had to worry about. My partner's mental capacities still astound me. She is the sort of girl who can walk into a room, look over the opponent, and tell you their weaknesses and strengths. She has a deep understanding of humanity, and beneath layers of cynicism and misanthropy, an unshakable compassion that prevents her from exploiting these weaknesses. She can make excellent points without bringing down the opponent, something I personally struggle with. It's a great experience, watching her convey her brilliant ideas.

In all, I could not ask for a more supportive and talented debate partner, let alone imagine one. While Elyse and I did not win our competition, and did not receive much credit from non-debaters, we did work hard. I am immensely proud of our successes and how we dealt with our defeats. Through my debate experience, I have come to truly appreciate what it is to be a Cavalier; being a Cavalier is about belief in oneself and one's allies and the strength of character to support these beliefs in the face of adversity. Elyse and I did not win our war, no, but we conquered our self-doubt and apathetic origins, and as such, are true Cavaliers in a way most do not care to understand.



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