BHHS Debate Tournament

By Olivia Canter

Lively, thoughtful debates filled the halls on September 6th, where the annual Byram Hills Invitational was hosted. Passionate debaters from nearby schools attended this exciting tournament; however, this competition would not have been possible without the hard work of the Byram Hills Speech and Debate Team. 

So, what were the debaters debating? Each month, a new topic discussion is selected by the National Speech and Debate Association. In September, Lincoln-Douglas debaters discussed the consideration on standardized tests in the college admission process. Public-Forum debaters debated if the European Union should join the Belt and Road Initiative which is a strategy developed by China aimed to connect Europe, Asia, and Africa to increase trade and economic growth. Speech debaters also attended the tournament and performed at a high level in their competitive brackets. Junior Palvasha Khan, a Novice Leader, notes the “variety of competitors” in each category. 

Each year, the BHHS Speech and Debate Team hosts this competition in order to raise funds for the upcoming year. Over the summer, members of the Team sold advertisement spaces to local businesses, family, and friends. Following, these advertisements were organized into a pamphlet and handed out at the invitational. 

Funds were also raised via the concession stand, at which baked goods, breakfast foods, and candy were sold to competitors. Junior Anika Kumar, a Novice Leader of the Debate Team, describes this snack counter: “I worked the concession stand, and business was bustling! The debaters were very hungry after their long, in-depth discussions. They couldn’t wait to buy our delicious treats, and this worked in our favor!” 

A second purpose of this tournament is to prepare local debaters for the upcoming, large competition: the Yale Invitational. Since the Yale Invitational is the same month as the BHHS Invitational, debaters can test out their arguments in preparation for the important Yale competition. Senior Zach Youngblood, a Recruitment Advisor and Leader of the Debate Team, explains, “the function of the Byram tournament is to be the first tournament of the year and to prepare for the tournament of Yale which is on the same topic.”

Yet, this amazing tournament could not have been executed without the efforts of Mr. Andriello who is the head of the Speech and Debate Team, members of the team, and parents. Members and parents worked numerous shifts each day in order to make the tournament run as smoothly as possible. Chloe Sampere, a junior and Novice Leader, explains her job: “I helped at the snack stand, and made sure debaters knew where their upcoming debates were located, so the tournament could be on schedule. I also handed out trophies to our top performers.” 

Although the BHHS Debate Team put in large efforts to put the tournament into effect, they had fun in the process. Sophomore Hayden Weiss exclaims “We all helped out. It was a great opportunity to show our commitment to the club.” Overall, the BHHS Debate team was able to work together to create a successful competition, thereby earning funds and providing a fun tournament for local debaters.