Saturday December 14th marked the first debate tournament of the year for the Connecticut Middle school Debate League. Twenty-two middle schools in Connecticut fielded teams in the competition. Middlebrook had a very strong showing with 60 students taking part. Each student is part of a debating trio. The question, or proposition is announced in advance of the tournament, giving each student 3-4 weeks to prepare. The proposition for this debate was 'This House regrets the worldwide proliferation of surveillance cameras.' Each team debates the proposition three times - once taking the proposition side, once taking the opposition side, and their final time the side they will argue is decided by a coin toss.
Each student receives a score for their personal performance, the team score is calculated by averaging out each team members score. Middlebrook had five of the ten best individual performances with seventh grader Francesca Gusfa finishing a very impressive second overall. Middlebrook also placed four of the top ten teams in the debate with a team of three eighth graders finishing first overall. Students on the winning team were Yasmin Athulathmudali, Grace Biondo, and Anagha Khisti (pictured above).
Katie Durkin and Michael Panoli are Debate club advisors at Middlbrook, positions they have held since the inception of debate club five years ago. Debate has existed as a High School club for a long time, but was absent as a club at Middlelbrook until Michael Wallace, a WHS student at the time, approached Middlebrook teachers asking them to consider setting up the club at Middlebrook. The idea made a lot of sense, getting the students used to debating at middle school would mean a more experienced cohort of students in the debate team at the high school.
There are four debate tournaments during the year. The next one will be held at Middlebrook on Saturday January 25th, 2020. Middlebrook are hoping that the home advantage will net them a third victory in a row. Students curious about debate are welcome to attend the next tournament as spectators. Debate club runs throughout the year on Tuesdays after school. The Middlebrook Debate Club introduces all middle school students to debate and public speaking. Debate club meetings address creating feasible arguments, speaking fluidly, and understanding fundamental civics. Games, lectures, and mock debates, during the weekly practices further bolsters students’ comprehension of current events and parliamentary procedures.