Club Spotlight: Debate Team’s Successful Fall Season Recap

Liana Van Nostrand, ‘16

After graduating nearly half of the team at the end of the 2014-­2015 school year, BHSEC Debate is back in business. The bulletin board has been revamped so as to promote discussion and plunge friends into argumentative feuds, a new class of debaters has entered the team, and the season has begun in earnest, with four tournaments already in the books. Three have taken place in the young New York City Urban Debate League, which provides free tournaments to students across the city.

Veterans dominated the first tournament in Maspeth in October and compiled two winning records: a 2­win 1­loss performance by the team of Amory Benjamin and Amy Milin, Year 2s, and an undefeated 3­win performance from Max Neuman, Year 2, both competing in Advanced Public Forum debate, which considers a new topic every month. Debating the issue of reparations for African-­Americans, Neuman also picked up the award for second best speaker.

For their second tournament in Sunset Park in November BHSEC’s debaters put on another strong showing. This time, the resolution, as debaters call their monthly topic, involved balancing national interests and the refugee crisis. Rookie Maya Rubin, 10th grade, won the gavel for best speaker in her division of Beginner Public Forum. Three Bard debaters made the top six Advanced speakers, with Benjamin in sixth, Joshua Waldman, Y2, in fifth, and Neuman in second. Benjamin, debating by himself, was the sixth best debater of the day, and Neuman and Waldman climbed to second place.

At the third tournament of the season, in December at Brighton Beach’s William C. Grady High School, the BHSEC team continued its upward trend. Rubin and her partner Sofia Rodas, 9th, brought in an undefeated record, placing third overall in the Beginner Division. Neuman and Waldman were also undefeated, coming in second in the tournament. After two consecutive runner-­up performances, Neuman also won the award for top speaker. The standardized testing topic also allowed the team of Livia Miller, 10th grader, and Gabriel Hoshino, Year One, to come in as the fourth best advanced team.

The very next weekend in December, debating the same topic as the previous month, a smaller team took an excursion from the typical New York City Urban Debate League into the New York Catholic Forensics League at the Christmas Classic, a tournament at Manhattan’s Regis High School. Rubin and Rodas brought home medals for winning performances in the Novice Public Forum division.

“This is a promising team brimming with talent and the ability to surpass previous years and rise to the top of the city circuit, regardless of the fact that we are essentially the only student­-coached and student­-run team in the city” said Neuman.

As the calendar turns to 2016, the team looks forward to the topics of economic sanctions on Russia in January and United States policies on energy and pollution in February. The team meets weekly on Tuesdays after class in room 306. For information and queries, they can be reached at


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