Debate Team Falls Short at Princeton

By Sherzod Nimatullo ’18, Gianny Chacon ’18, and Inteshar Mohi ‘18

After a discussion filled weekend, the Debate Team fell short during their trip to Princeton.

The travel team, a group of 10 students, visited Princeton on December 4 and stayed for the weekend to debate over 100 different schools in the country. The divisions were both novice and varsity.  Regardless of their loss, they wouldn’t have been able to reach Harvard without coaching from Ms. Suzane Thomas and Mr. Billie Brathwaite-Jones.

On Friday, which is the day they arrived, debaters participated in two rounds. On Saturday, there were five rounds that spanned throughout the entire day.

Captain of the team, Lizaveta Slinko ’17 said, “I am responsible for managing the team, making sure everyone is on track for tournaments and making progress, and developing their argumentative skills.”

The team was split into six teams, with two students in each group. One of the groups won three rounds, two teams won two rounds and another team won one round.

Thomas said, “Our kids were very prepared in terms of their arguments.”

According to Kaneita Marlin ‘18, the main topic during the debates was Plan Colombia, which is a military initiative implemented by the United States to fight drug cartels and left-wing terrorism in Colombia. The team had to do in-depth research before departing to New Jersey. To fully debate about Plan Colombia, they needed to be proficient with topics such as American Imperialism, Colombian government, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and different types of chemicals sprayed on the coca plant.

Within the debate, kids from other schools who attended the event were much more experienced.  Some started debating early as middle school. Inexperience was the biggest weakness for the travel team.

Sabrina Khakimova ‘17 said, “It was much more challenging compared to our monthly local tournaments and as a team we progressed and learned a lot from this experience of having to compete in an Ivy League University.”

The Midwood Debate Team is ranked number one in the city, and this was showcased last year when they travelled to Harvard in February, and more recently were the winners of the Brooklyn Championships back in April.

According to Atlanta Debate, students who debate show that they are more ready for college than students who don’t. A study from Chicago’s Urban Debate Leagues show that at graduation, the grade point average of a debater is 3.23, compared to similar students, who don’t debate, which graduate with a GPA of 2.83.

Johanna Lewis, who is has been an outreach librarian for the Brooklyn Public Library and has been working with high school students for 17 years said, “Debaters are the most prepared for college of any other student. These students really know how to do research at the level that you need to do in college.”

Ms. Thomas said that there is a shortage of adults who are willing to supervise. “If any adult in the school would like to volunteer to stay after school, for two days a week and just be in the room while the kids practice, we’d have more effective practices,” she said.


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