This article presents the curricular and service-learning realities of a program that launches middle school debate teams in New Orleans public schools. By leaning on classical rhetoric in the writing classroom, McBride’s classes learn fundamentals of debate and rhetoric that prepare undergraduates to coach debate teams in middle schools where more than 95 percent of the students qualify for free or assisted lunches. Class conversations about Quintilian, Plato, and Aristotle prepare undergraduates to meet the middle school debaters “where they are” in the sense that they can evaluate where they are as orators and push them to greater heights. This service-learning course gives his Tulane students a new reason to care about what they read and write about, while simultaneously advancing Tulane’s dedication to service-learning and community outreach.

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