Skip Christensen (right) and Mike Harrison (left) met for the first time in 1952 when they joined the same Cub Scouts Pack. They were second graders in the small town of Brookings, South Dakota, where they both lived through their high school years. When they joined the high school debate team as freshmen, their lives were about to change forever.
Together throughout high school they won numerous tournaments in debate, oratory and extemporaneous speaking. In the summer of 1961, they attended Northwestern University’s public speaking institute for high school students. In their senior year, they won the state debate championship, then reached the quarter-finals at the National High School Debate Tournament in Missoula, Montana, losing in a split decision to the eventual national champions.
Competitive debating provided them with valuable life skills. Debaters must find the most logical support and best evidence for both sides of any assigned proposition, and be prepared to argue whichever side is assigned in a given debate. Practiced debaters thus learn to be open-minded, critical, logical, analytical, and persuasive. Skip and Mike got the most out of their debating experience, learning lessons and skills they would use throughout their lives.
After graduation, coincidentally, both of their families moved east, where Skip went to college in Illinois and Mike in Ohio. They were reunited again in the fall of 1967 in Michigan, where they roomed together in their first year of law school. Skip was drafted into the Army after his first year, Mike graduated in 1970, and Skip returned after his military service to finish law school in 1972.
Skip married an Ohio girl and went west to join a law firm in Spokane, Washington. He later joined a firm in Tucson, Arizona. Mike moved east to New York, working as an attorney first in Armonk and New York City, and then moving to Albany, New York, where he married a Massachusetts girl and settled into a career as an attorney and administrative law judge with New York State.
Four decades later and several years into retirement Skip still lives in Tucson, and Mike remains in New York’s Capital District. They stay in touch, and they have found that they have not lost the curiosity and intense analytical drive that motivated them fifty years ago as high school debaters.
Now they have joined forces as debate partners again, bringing more than a century’s worth of combined experience into play. Together, they will conduct civil, but unflinchingly honest and thorough, analyses of major issues affecting America and its future.