The Bard College Debate Union and the Bard Center for Civic Engagement hosted the first Bard Middle and High School Debate Tournament on Friday, March 9th. Bard Debate Union students and staff presided as debate judges with over forty secondary school students competing. The tournament featured two full rounds of World-Schools Style Debate competition, luncheon, and an awards ceremony, at which Bard College President Leon Botstein addressed the enthusiastic novice debaters.
The topics for the two debates were “This House Believes That Facebook Does More Harm Than Good,” and “This House Would Lower the Voting Age in the United States.” Four of the three-person high school teams were fielded from the Bard High School Early College (BHSEC) schools in Queens, Manhattan, and Newark, New Jersey; Red Hook High School sent two teams, as did Rhinebeck High School. Red Hook Linden Avenue Middle School sent five teams, which competed against each other.
Bard Debate coaches Ruth Zisman and Jennifer Rankin, along with student members of the Bard Debate Union, have been working with students and faculty to organize and train debate teams at all six participating schools. “This event will enable students to gain tournament experience in competing with one another, and with students from Bard’s network of institutions,” says Jonathan Becker, vice president and dean for international affairs and civic engagement. “It is our hope that this will become an annual event.”
Team and individual awards were given to the following participants: in the high school division, consisting of eight teams, BHSEC A took first place, with Rhinebeck A in second place, Red Hook A in third place, and BHSEC B in fourth place. Individual high school debate awards: Hannah Frishberg (BHSEC A) in first place; Callie Goldstone (Rhinebeck A) in second place; Joe Bryant (Red Hook A) in third place; Gabe Haddad (BHSEC D) in fourth place and “Mo” Tyler (BHSEC C) in fifth place. Individual middle school debate awards: Caleb Wootan, first; Eleanor Zelek, second; Joseph Becker, third; Abby Foster, fourth, and Aidan Murtha, fifth place.
The Red Hook Education Foundation provided support for the debate tournament.