The Annual Bobcat Debate Tournament

By Marleigh Canter

More than 30 schools participated in the Byram Hills Invitational Debate Tournament on September 7th and 8th. The tournament is a widely respected forum for Lincoln Douglas (LD) and Public Forum (PF) debaters from around the region. Byram Hills takes great pride in hosting the debate community at this annual event, which is the largest fundraising event of the year for the Byram Hills Debate Team. Fundraising efforts for the tournament began last spring with amazing community support from local Armonk shops and parents.

The debate tournament is led by SUNY Binghamton’s Zach Frieden, who Mr. Andriello, the new Debate Director, refers to as “the man.” This event was Mr. Andriello’s first time as the faculty debate leader hosting a tournament, and he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. A Byram Hills Debate Mom, Mrs. Judith Barry, noted that this tournament is “not only our largest fundraising effort but [shows] our community pride.” Various schools come to compete at The Byram Hills Invitational as it helps debaters practice the September topic before bigger upcoming events such as The Yale Invitational.

The Byram Hills Invitational Debate Tournament is unique because it kicks off the debate season with a well-organized, highly attended, and friendly competition. Judges and debaters were met with meals, guides, and Byram Hills spirit throughout the event. All meals (Friday dinner, Saturday breakfast, and Saturday lunch) were provided free of charge for competitors and judges, thanks to fundraising efforts.

Although the Byram Hills Debate Team does not participate in the event, they were on hand to help and observe the competitors. Some students helped run the food stand, some met up with friends, and others helped track down judges to make sure rounds started on time! Chloé Sampére, a member of the Byram Hills Debate Team, exclaims, “It was great to help out my debate team during the Byram Debate tournament. I loved watching practice rounds which gave me new looks into the topic as well as speaking to friends from debate who I had not seen!”

There were five preliminary rounds in Open Lincoln Douglas, Open Public Forum, and Open Policy. It’s always interesting to know what those rapid-fire debaters are focusing on. For the September/October topic, LD debaters wrestled with whether reporters should have the right to protect the identity of confidential sources. Novice LD debaters opened on whether civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified. For PF debaters, the focus was on whether the United States should accede to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea without reservations.

Byram Hills Debate and this annual tournament are a source of ongoing pride for the school district and community. The 2019 tournament planning will begin early this year, and community members are encouraged to learn, help, support, and maybe even attend a round!