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Debate Team Dominates Home Tournament in Historic Season

Debate Team Dominates Home Tournament in Historic Season

Debate Team Dominates Home Tournament in Historic Season

David Conti

Jason Shan ’23 (captain), Meilan Antonucci ’24, and Ben Who ’24 (captain) at the 2022 IISPSC at Deerfield Academy. The three powered Hotchkiss to win First Place School overall for the first time in school history, beating out a field of schools from several different countries.

Consecutive Win Streak Upped to 27

Contributing Writer

October 31, 2022

Daniel Zhang '26

The school’s Speech and Debate team placed first overall at this weekend’s home tournament — its 27th consecutive first-place finish in a Debating Association of New England Independent Schools competition.

With a first-place overall finish, Peter Berlizov ’24 became the third Hotchkiss debater to qualify for the 2023 World’s Independent Schools Public Speaking Competition annual tournament, which will be held in Durban, South Africa.

The school hosted the 28th Annual Hotchkiss Debate Tournament on Sunday, marking the first time the event has been held in person since 2020. One hundred debaters from around New England participated in two rounds of parliamentary debate and two rounds of impromptu speaking.

The only debater on the team to have competed at the school in-person was Co-captain Jason Shan ’23, a Senior, who did so during his Prep year. “Seeing the Hotchkiss community come together to support the debate team on campus was incredibly refreshing and motivating and crushing the competition on home turf wasn’t bad either,” he said.

In parliamentary debate, teams debate resolutions touching on current events and political topics, such as “This house would use only paper ballots in federal elections” and “This house believes that billionaires should donate a portion of their wealth to local charities.” After a preparation period of 10 minutes, teams deliver speeches in affirmation or opposition to the resolutions, using rhetoric and logic to sway the judges in their favor.

On Sunday, advanced pair Jason Shan ’23 and Ben Who ’24 debated the resolution about billionaire charitable donations. “Our main focus was simple,” Shan said. “We needed to convince the judge that billionaires were playing a role in our country’s wealth gap, and that their donations could make a real positive difference in society.”

In impromptu speaking, individual speakers receive a slip of paper containing three abstract concepts and adages — such as “Art,” “Travel,” or “Determination” — and must choose one to address. After just two minutes of preparation, speakers must deliver five-minute speeches on their chosen topic.

Vlad Grass ’24, one of the school’s advanced debaters, spoke about his travels to Russia and other foreign countries in his impromptu speech. “The preparation period is always the most stressful part for me,” he said. “Once I started speaking though, my story flowed well, and I was able to give a good presentation about my topic, ‘Travel.’”

The home tournament came mere days after advanced debaters Meilan Antonucci ’24 and co-captains Jason Shan ’23 and Ben Who ’24 delivered an impressive performance at the International Independent Schools Public Speaking Competition at Deerfield Academy. 

The school placed first overall in the United States and the world, with Ben Who ’24 taking top Parliamentary Debate and Extemporaneous Speaking honors and Meilan Antonucci ’24 winning third and second in those events, respectively. Antonucci earned himself a spot at the World Championship by placing fifth overall at the tournament.

The Speech and Debate team will look to continue their streak of success in the coming weeks as it solidifies its lineup and develops new debaters. “What our team did today is what its been doing this whole year,” Who said. “That’s a great sign as we keep improving and looking for ways to go to the next level.”

Daniel Zhang is a contributing writer for The Record.

A version of this article appears in the November 3 issue with the headline "Debate Team Dominates Home Tournament in Historic Season."

October 20, 2022

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Editor's Note: This article was recovered from The Record's online archive. There may be stylistic and visual errors that interrupt the reading experience, as well as missing photos. To read this article as it appeared in print, view our print archives.

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Editorials are written by members of The Record's Executive Board. They typically center on issues related to the school or student life on campus.