Varsity Debaters Compete in First Tournament of the Season

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Seren Park, Staff Writer

On October 18, the first tournament of the 2019-2020 season of varsity debate was hosted at Tenafly High School. The twelve schools that participated in this tournament, other than Tenafly, were Northern Valley Old Tappan, Northern Valley Demarest, Dwight Morrow, Leonia, Woodridge, Bergen Academies, Bergenfield, Westwood, Fair Lawn, Emerson, and Dumont. Fellow students watched as formally dressed debaters from each high school heatedly argued for or against this year’s resolved, which is about arms sales of the United States.

In policy debate, the affirmative side has to support the resolved, which is that “the United States federal government should substantially reduce Direct Commercial Sales and/or Foreign Military Sales of arms from the United States,” with a specific plan that is realistic. On the other hand, the negative side opposes the affirmative team’s plan and rebuts using the Five Pillars of Debate, which are topicality, necessity, solvency, fundability, and feasibility.

Having to argue both for and against the same topic compels debaters to consider both sides of an issue, which is necessary in the real world. “Debate is not only a great experience for its development of your speaking abilities, but also crucially important for forcing yourself to take a side that you usually wouldn’t, fostering a bilateral approach to politics and policy,” said Jonathan Tenenbaum (’21). “I really enjoyed this last debate and look forward to what’s to come.” 

Debate is not only a great experience for its development of your speaking abilities, but also crucially important for forcing yourself to take a side that you usually wouldn’t.”

— Jonathan Tenenbaum

The Debate Club’s goal is to train and inspire future debaters, but of course, debaters also want to win as many debates as possible in the Bergen County Debate League. Tenafly’s debaters accomplished that at this tournament, as one team won first place and the top three teams won second place overall. Schools are ranked on the scores of their top three teams, which were Jonathan Tenenbaum and Tomer Witelson (’21), who went 4-0; Sabrina Li (’20) and Kathryn Zheng (’20), who went 3-1; and Maddie Glassman (’20) and Margo Friedman (’20), who went 2-2. Bergen Academy, which was in first place, had its top three teams all go 4-0, while Tenafly ended with 9-3 total. 

Brenda Kim (’21), who participated in the tournament with her partner Yewon Na (’21), was proud of how the team performed. “Varsity debate was definitely a new experience,” she said. “Having to debate four times instead of two was hard, and I was very proud of how the team did at the tournament even though we got second.”

The next debate is Friday, November 1st, at Dumont.