Debate Team Competes at Harvard

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Hornets arrive at Harvard to debate

By Lizaveta Slinko ’17

Starched shirts and dress pants swarmed the Harvard halls on the frigid Bostonian morning of February 14, with each ensemble attempting to scramble its way to the front desk in hopes of obtaining room arrangements.

This was the atmosphere which greeted Midwood’s Public Forum debate team as they joined the throng of various multinational groups, which had congregated beneath the same roof from 22 different states and four foreign countries.

The tournament held various forms of speech and debate, including Policy, Lincoln-Douglas, and Student Congress.  Within the Public Forum Junior Varsity division, there were 390 teams competing during the six preliminary rounds.

Team Captain, Irla Belli ’16 said, “I didn’t know what to anticipate but being that this was a new group of people from across the country and even the world, I expected to be competing with people on a new standard.”

The first three preliminary rounds were held on Saturday, February 14, with the remaining three conducted on Sunday, February 15.

“The first round was a boost of confidence as we noticed that we were up to par with the opposing team and were even able to win,” stated Belli. “Yet we were not clear since we had more rounds following.”

The resolution being debated was, “The United States federal government should adopt a carbon tax.”  Theoretically, the implementation of a carbon tax can lower the output of carbon emissions by taxing companies for every ton of the substance emitted.  

Competing teams were expected to debate both the pro and con arguments during the tournament, and such positions were decided at the flip of a coin preceding the round.

Kai Brady ’18 said, “I learned that climate change is a current problem, and that by limiting carbon emissions we can reduce our carbon footprint.”

After completing extensive research and establishing their contentions, the team tried the topic out for size at a local competition hosted by Bronx Science High School, which argued the same resolution.

Comparing the two tournaments, Nozima Omonullaeva ’16 stated, “It [Harvard] was more exhilarating and on a bigger scale since we were now in competition with people from all over the country and with people from other countries including China, Canada, and the Dominican Republic.”

After the preliminary rounds were over, 64 teams out of the original 390 were chosen to continue on to triple octofinals. With a record of 5:1, the team of Irla Belli ’16 and Lizaveta Slinko ’17 were one such team.

However, after being beat by Regis High School, Midwood’s part in the tournament came to a close. Regis would go on to win first place in the competition.  

“I was very proud,” said Mrs. Thomas, Debate Coach. “I think being challenged by very high performing teams from very strong schools with a strong history of competition allowed the team to gain a certain amount of confidence.”

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