Debate travels to Harvard


photo by junior Arth Nayak

Seniors Alexis O’Brien, Sarah Gil and junior Grace Maddron play in the snow on the Harvard campus.

On Feb. 15, the debate team traveled to Cambridge, Massachusetts to compete in the 45th National Harvard Forensics Tournament. Along the way, they made school history.

The team stayed at the Irving House Bed and Breakfast. Eleven students, consisting of almost every junior and senior debater on the team, went on the trip with coach Julie Love.

The tournament started on Saturday and extended through Monday. Four students competed in Congressional Debate, three competed in Lincoln-Douglas Debate and four competed in Public Forum Debate. The qualifying rounds happened Saturday and Sunday morning and those who advanced continued to debate Sunday night. Senior Damian Thomas competed on Monday morning as well because he was able to make it past multiple rounds and into the semifinals.

Thomas was the first school debater to make it to the semifinal round at the tournament, making him the most successful debater from the school on a national level to date. Additionally, junior Grace Maddron advanced to quarterfinals in Congressional Debate.

Maddron competed in three preliminary rounds and one quarterfinal round. Thomas competed in the same, but one additional semifinal round. Top five in each preliminary chamber advanced to quarterfinals, and top five in every quarterfinal chamber advanced to semifinals. For each round, the topic of debate changed.

The competition was prestigious and full of talented debaters, making any students advancing a big deal to the team.

“I would absolutely consider it a successful weekend for us,” Thomas said. “Two of the team members made it past the pre-elimination rounds.”

After Saturday and Sunday, when most of the team was finished competing, members had Friday and Monday to see the city and enjoy themselves.

They walked around the Harvard campus to explore and learn about the school, but they also saw Cambridge. The weather there was cold for most of the days but on Monday it snowed.

“I have not seen snow in a long time so this was very exciting,” Maddron said.

Debating at such a prestigious university and prestigious tournament was stressful but they were able to wind down with a snowball fight.

“Playing with the snow in Harvard square with my best friends was definitely my favorite memory from the trip,” Maddron said.

The debate team travels to this tournament annually and members are already excited for next year.

“It was a really great trip,” Gil said. “We all had fun in Cambridge, learned a lot about the Harvard campus and did well in competition.”