2016 - A Fruitful Season for MHS Debate
By Jackson Markow
From February 13-15, two MHS debate teams and MHS debate coach Marijke Russo debated at the annual Harvard Invitational Debate in Cambridge Massachusetts. The tournament pitted MHS’s debate prowess against teams from all over the nation and world. In every round, the teams would flip a coin and either argue for or against the topic of the month, which discussed a potential US carbon tax implementation.
But it was not the first time that MHS had faced the challenge of out-debating a slew of formidable adversaries throughout the course of the day, nor would it be the last. Since the beginning of the debate season in November, the 9 MHS debaters worked fervently to research topics, find evidence, and craft careful arguments in favor of and against a monthly topic, known as the resolved. From November to February, Montpelier would face teams from all over the state while building their writing and speaking skills.
The two teams which attended were George Huang and Omeed Fallahi, and Emily Sheftman and Jackson Markow. All are sophomores, but while Huang and Fallahi are in their second year debating, Sheftman and Markow are only in their first. Last year at the Vermont State Tournament, Huang and Fallahi placed 5th in the state, almost, but not quite making it to the national debate tournament.
The tournament began with Montpelier’s teams in the initial six elimination rounds. These rounds, which went through Friday and Saturday, saw Fallahi and Huang end with a 4-2 (W-L) record and Markow and Sheftman with a 3-3 record. Sheftman and Markow were eliminated and Fallahi and Huang proceeded until the triple-octafinals, when they were eliminated. Debating a total of 13 rounds over 3 days and learning much by watching the finals, the weekend was a tough but productive one for the MHS debate team.
The following month, Montpelier debated in the State Tournament in the State house here in Montpelier. George Huang, Omeed Fallahi, Angus Fraser, Leah Sagan-Dworsky, Meredith Stetter, Emily Sheftman, and Jackson Markow debated. After three rounds throughout the morning, it became quite clear that Montpelier's Huang and Fallahi were quite skilled at arguing this topic. They then advanced to the semi-finals, the finals, and triumphed over Colchester, winning the Vermont State Championship Tournament!
Montpelier brought 5 teams to the district tournament in Oneonta, New York and debated various topics, including the U.S. military presence in Okinawa, the promotion of democracy in the Middle East, and holding a mock U.S. Congress, where debators act as senators and argue in favor or against bills, a style of debate known as Congressional debate. All at the state tournament attended this tournament, with the addition of Isabelle Boutin. In this debate, Montpelier faced teams throughout New England, coming away with a range of titles. MHS's Leah Sagan-Dworsky and George Huang came in first and second place, respectively, in Congressional debate, and Fraser and Sheftman came in third in Public Forum. All in all, the experience was a great one for the team, who got to win, practice debating, and learn to adapt to unique debating styles not seen in local tournaments.
And now the season is almost over. There is however, one remaining tournament in store for Montpelier Debate. That is the NCFL Nationals in Sacremento California, where Huang and Fallahi will be travelling, along with coach Marijke Russo, to compete against the top teams from every US state as a result of their win in the Vermont State Tournament, It will be a challenge for them, and will require lots of research and preparation, and will test every ounce of their logic and speaking ability, but MHS and the Solon Spectrum wish them luck in this upcoming and final tournament of the year, where whether a victory comes or not, Montpelier will be represented to the nation as a school that does not give up.
George and Omeed are currently fundrasing for this trip to Nationals, so if you are interested in contributing to make this possible, donate to their GoFundMe page here.