Debate Team Shows Off Skills at Harvard University

By Kareem Ibrahim ‘18 and Roman Rod ‘18

Hornets from the debate team had the privilege to attend Harvard’s annual debate tournament for the second time in their debating careers from February 17-19.

The style of debate that the team practices is public forum and the topic that the debaters argued both for and against for was the resolution, “The United States government should lift its embargo on Cuba”. It was a three-night trip in Cambridge, Massachusetts where the team debated for two days with 6 rounds total per team of two debaters.

“My favorite thing about it was how different everyone is and getting ideas from how everyone speaks and applying it to my own speaking style,” said Summer Boone ‘19.

This year, there was a cutback on how many teams could attend. Last year was the first time the team was able to go to a national tournament, where 18 debaters attended.

“Debating at Harvard a second time was a lot of pressure,” said Margarita Potapova ‘18, “Since it wasn’t my first time attending the tournament, it was a lot more stressful because there was this preconceived notion that we had to do better than last year.”

The debaters had to prepare several weeks prior for this tournament, including preparation for a previous local tournament on February 11.

“As captain, I was excited to see how the team would fare in such a high pressure environment,” said Lizaveta Slinko ‘17, captain of the debate team. “I loved seeing everyone come together throughout the long days of debate rounds and give each other support.”

The debaters were able to use the skills they accumulated over the past years from their coaches, such as the Assistant Principal of English Ms. Suzanne Thomas and Brooklyn College student, Max Newman.

“I was happy that we got so many teams that got 2-4,” said Ms. Thomas, referring to win-loss ratios. “And it’s not so much more important that we are winning or losing, but the fact that we’re growing as a team.”

As the team is only in its second year, Ms. Thomas is looking to make a reliable and strong team to attend national tournaments.

“The team is full of people who are really passionate about learning and debating from phenomenally diverse backgrounds,” said Mr. Newman. “I love coming into meetings with dozens and dozens of people, willing to try, and sometimes to fail, but more often to succeed and to improve, a team where people keep on coming back to as they found a home here.”

Mr. Newman had attended numerous debate meetings prior to the Harvard trips, and students were able to use his expertise on enhancing and tweaking their debating skills.

Several debaters felt pride in attending the tournament, where they can acquire more experience and get better in debate.

“Although we did not break onto the next round, we were honored to be given the privilege to attend the National Harvard tournament a second time with my fellow debaters to gain more experience,” said Kai Brady ‘19.

Potapova said that seeing diverse teams and judges greatly added on to her betterment as a debater.

“Everyone let out a big sigh of relief,” said Potapova, referring to the end of the tournament. “And you could immediately see the tension unraveling. It was a good feeling, a ‘we did it’ moment. It was a sense of accomplishment.”

The team has one more tournament for the current season, which is a championship competition. Potential debaters may speak to Ms. Thomas and join the team this fall.


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