The BHHS Debate Team: Headed to the Tournament of Champions

By Chloe Sampere

The Byram Hills Debate Team participates in numerous tournaments at prestigious universities year round. Just this past February, the debate team drove out to the University of Pennsylvania and had an extremely impressive showing. The University of Pennsylvania is known to have one of the most highly-esteemed tournaments with debaters flying in from all across the country.

With many different types of debate, Byram had participants in both categories – speech and debate. Speech involves more performance aspects; whereas, debate involves negating and affirming a resolution.

As for the debate, there are two aspects – Public Forum and Lincoln Douglas. Public Forum involves working with a partner to argue over topics that are very relevant to current politics. Opposingly, Lincoln Douglas focuses more on philosophical aspects individually. 

At the University of Pennsylvania, Junior Oliver Brocato and Sophomore Illeana Baquero had an extremely impressive run in Public Forum by making it all the way to the octo-finals and qualifying for a bid. This accomplishment allows them to attend the Silver Tournament of Champions, a highly acclaimed tournament in Kentucky. After speaking with Oliver, he claimed that the tournament allowed him to “bond with [his] teammates and improve [his] debating skills.”

Luke Gastelu also had an outstanding performance in the Lincoln Douglas debate, making it to the octo-finals, as well as placing second as the best speaker at the University of Pennsylvania tournament. These achievements are outstanding at such a rigorous level of debate.

Additionally, in Public Forum, Sophomores Marleigh and Olivia Canter, Chloe Sampere and Junior Mark Fakler performed highly in the varsity pool. Although this was a difficult debate, I personally was very proud of my performance with Mark. Talia Dinstein also had a great run in varsity Lincoln Douglas debate.

As for the Public Forum junior varsity league, Sophomores Palvasha Khan and Alison Zeng broke and made it to prelims, a great accomplishment. Freshmen John Ndocaj, Harrison Hayward, Zachary Honig, and Hayden Weiss also had very impressive runs.

In junior varsity Lincoln Douglas, freshman Nora Lowe broke and made it to prelims. Freshmen Alicia Huang and Eleana Morse also had great records.

Finally, in the speech category, both James Bastone and Lia Aldea-Lustig had great performances in each of their categories; extemporaneous and declamation.

Overall, these debate trips allow great bonding between the debaters and many fun and memorable experiences to occur. The Byram Hills debate team left an impressive mark at the University of Pennsylvania this year with two debaters qualifying for a highly-esteemed tournament. We are so proud of the BHHS community!