Off Campus

Debaters advance

At the International Independent School Public Speaking Competition (IISPSC) in Winnipeg, Canada, last month, Aurash Vatan ’19 and Adam Levin ’18 earned tickets to World Debate Championships, Chris Attisani ’18 took seventh place for Americans, and the school placed third overall among U.S. teams.

The IISPSC welcomed around 160 competitors from across North America, and Aurash, Adam, and Chris earned the opportunity to travel there after Debate Coach Sarah Getchell and last year’s captains selected them for their strong debating skills, Ms. Getchell said.

The group arrived in Canada on October 25 and spent the next day delivering  persuasive speeches.  Adam and Aurash also participated in a cross-examination debate where competitors build an argument and oppose the other team’s points on a given issue.

After two rounds of receiving high scores from a panel of judges, the pair qualified for the the finals in the cross-examination debate. Their scores in other categories allowed them to qualify for World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships, which will occur in Cape Town, South Africa, in April of next year.

Aurash said the finals of the cross-examinations were his favorite part of the tournament.

“Debate is always a lot more fun with an audience [because] you can create a relationship with the people watching,” he said.

Chris said one of his highlights was reading a section from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in an interpretive reading round—a time for competitors to present a passage in the voice of a character or narrator.

“I read Heart of Darkness in my Dynamic Duos class [with English Teacher Beth McNamara] during eleventh grade,” he said. “It was a book I really enjoyed, so I picked a passage about empathy that I had analyzed in depth.”

The team continued debating for three more days before receiving their individual and collective awards at the closing ceremony. They traveled home on October 30.

In addition to the actual debates, Chris said he liked atmosphere of the competition.

“Getting to interact with all the other debaters from all over the world was super fun, since it was cool to meet South African kids, Indians, and a bunch of people from different places,” he said. “It was interesting to get their different perspectives.”

Ms. Getchell said she was pleased with each student’s performance and feels  optimistic about Adam and Aurash’s chances of succeeding at World’s.

“Last year, Aurash placed 35th in the world, and his knowledge of the competition will be beneficial since he knows what to expect now,” she said. “It is Adam’s first time qualifying, but his experience at Internationals will help him to prepare effectively. We are, in particular, working on becoming comfortable with the more combative style of debaters from around the world, so I think they’ll do a good job in April.”

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