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Monday, February 8, 2016

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Debate Team Sees Early Success at Roxbury Latin


The Choate Debate Team returned victorious from its first tournament of the year, at the Roxbury Latin School on Saturday, September 21st. Choate sent two four-person teams—Rachel Alpert ’14, Alex Klein ’14, Tanay Chheda ’14, and Ryan Sheppard ’14 competed in the advanced division. Chris Moeckel ’16, Ethan Della Rocca ’16, Morgan Harris ’15, and Megan Currie ’15 represented Choate in the novice division. 

Alpert, the debate team’s captain, and Klein, its vice captain, took home the second place pair award in the advanced division, with Klein also earning the second place individual speaker prize. In the novice division, Currie and Harris also won the second place pair award, and Currie was named the second place individual speaker. Overall, Choate placed second, behind Andover.

The competition consisted of three rounds of debate, each with a variety of resolutions, ranging from “This House would raise the minimum wage” to “This House would abolish eminent domain” to “This House would ban professional horse racing.” Debaters were given ten minutes to prepare for each round. 

Co-adviser to the debate team and HPRSS teacher, Ms. Kyra Jenney, stepped in to lead the team at Roxbury Latin because Mr. Neil Shimmield, the other faculty adviser, was sick that weekend. Although Ms. Jenney came to Choate only a year ago, she has already taken an active role in the team, volunteering as a judge at tournaments throughout the year. 

Said Mr. Shimmield, “I could see that she got on really well with students, and she was exceptionally well organized and capable. Now she is a sort of co-coach with me and will be judging at every debate tournament.” In January, Ms. Jenney will help organize Choate’s Invitational Debate Tournament.

Following the three preliminary rounds, Alpert and Klein participated in a public exhibition round between the top two advanced pairs. “We tried to keep [the round] brief and make it very lighthearted,” said Alpert, explaining that the purpose of the exhibition round was to entertain the audience while making concrete arguments.

Even before the results were announced, Currie, whose partner in the pair rounds was Harris, knew that the Choate team had performed well. “I was really excited. I knew earlier that our advanced group, Alex Klein and Rachel Alpert, had done well. I was also feeling confident about [my] rounds, and so was Morgan,” said Currie.  

This tournament, along with upcoming tournaments at Andover, Hotchkiss School, Loomis Chaffee School, and Choate, are all qualifier tournaments for the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championship, to be held on April 23rd through the 29th in Druskininkai, Lithuania. The winners of the first place advanced speaker awards at these tournaments will represent Team USA at the world championships.

Of this year’s team, Harris said, “It’s a great sense of community on the team, and because we all share a similar passion, I think that really helps us get along so well.” 

The debate team is now preparing for the upcoming Stonleigh-Burnham School Public Speaking Tournament on October 6th and the St. Sebastian’s Novice Invitational Tournament on October 13th.


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