Students Compete at Harvard Speech and Debate Tournament
By Doug Kiley
Brewster Academy took seven teams, or pairs, to compete in the 43th Annual Harvard Speech and Debate Invitational Tournament. Scheduled a week later than last year, the temps were 40 degrees warmer and so was the competition.
Brewster competes in the Public Forum style debate – teams of two debating in three to five rounds of competition throughout the weekend. Which side a student defends in a given round is decided by coin flip at the start of a round so students must be ready to defend either side of the resolution. This year’s resolution, which all entrants in the Public Forum debated was The United States should lift the embargo on Cuba. The resolution was announced on January 1, which meant the debaters had about six weeks to research the topic and prepare their defenses.
Four seniors, six sophomores, and four freshmen comprised the Brewster squad. Our seniors provided leadership and a soothing presence in a contentious environment, which included eight speech events and seven debate events. There were more than 6,000 high school students from around the world that converged on Harvard University and surrounding schools for the tournament.
Brewster was 9-14 (.390) overall this year after going 4-10 (.286) in 2016. This represents a 10 percent increase in winning percentage over last year and with 10 lower schoolers competing this year, we aim to improve next year.
A very special thanks to debate families Claire and Chris Smith, Elaine and John Ventola, Chyllene McDonald, Kristen Van der Linde, and Marc and Dawn DiGeronimo for providing guidance and support to the debaters throughout the weekend. Debate rounds are spread out across different buildings at different times and a coach simply cannot be there to guide every debater. These brave and supportive parents made this expedition possible.
A special thanks to senior math teacher Tom Hill who provided chaperone support and wheeled the Microbird through the streets of Cambridge (not an easy task). Special thanks to Dean of Campus Affairs Bret Barnett who re-enkindled the Speech and Debate team at Brewster many years ago.
And special thanks to all the alumni, families, students, faculty, staff and friends of Brewster who generously contribute to the Fund for Brewster. which make programs like Debate possible at Brewster Academy.
The Brewster squad, listed by pairs:
Seniors Bret DiGeronimo and Cat Lennon (lifer in the debate program); Bridget McDonald and Julia Sledzik
Sophomores: Le “Michelle” Su and Olivia Papp; Catie Murphy and Calina-Rose Caroline Folkersen; Trinity Towns and Mia Ventola
Freshmen: Indigo Brown and Julia Shannon-Grillo; Elsa Smith and Spencer Kiley