School Hosts First Varsity Debate Tournament of the Year


THS Debate team

Yuri Han, Staff Writer

On Friday, October 13th, the sounds of rigorous argument will echo through the hallways. In the busy traffic between periods and among the sea of students hurrying to their next classes, some students will be decked in suits and dresses, coolly finding their way to another pair of formally-dressed opponents. Here, they will shake hands. When the clock is set, a heated debate will begin.

The Debate team has been one of the school’s strongest and most popular clubs. The Junior Varsity team has been #1 for over 17 years and the Varsity team has fallen consistently in 1st and 2nd places. When asked about the school’s debate team, Mr. Barrett, debate coach, said, “Tenafly debate speaks for itself.” Around eight or nine schools will visit to participate in the tournament, some of which include Bergen County Academies and Dwight Englewood—schools also known for their strong debate teams.

The resolve, or topic, of this first debate has to do with American education: The U.S. federal government should substantially increase its funding and/or regulations of elementary and/or secondary education. With policy debating, debaters on the affirmative side receive this resolve and create a plan specifically aimed toward making the resolve a reality. The negative team then counters this plan based on the Five Pillars of Debate.

“The Five Pillars of Debate include topicality, necessity, solvency, fundability, and feasibility,” said Seo Young Seok (‘18), Senior Chief-Justice of the school’s Debate team. “The whole debate revolves around these pillars. The affirmative team’s job is to come up with a plan that employs these pillars and the negative teams’ job is to counter-argue this plan with the pillars.”

The debates will take place in classrooms throughout the day. Every year, teachers and classrooms have always looked forward to the debates. Teachers have already requested that some of the debates take place in their own rooms.

Not only is debate the cornerstone of American democracy, but it also serves as an essential tool to increase your confidence, public speaking skills, and ability to research.

— Nadav Ziv ('18)

Mrs. Pelaez-Martinez, world language teacher who will have debates throughout the day during her classes, says, “The debates are very interesting to watch. I find watching a debate a valuable experience. Being able to argue with facts I think is an artform. That’s why I enjoy them.” Students in Mrs. Pelaez-Martinez’s classes are also looking forward to the event. “I think it’s really exciting to see the stuff they’ve been working so hard on,” said Sydney Salk (‘18). “It’s like an international sporting event.”

“All the Varsity debaters this year have a lot of experience, but most of the judges are new, which is both really exciting and nerve-wracking,” said Seok, who has been a judge since her sophomore year. “Tenafly has always held the invitational for as long as I can remember, so I like to think debate is our ‘thing’ at Tenafly.”

The THS Debate team has also provided students opportunities to hone skills essential to life. “Not only is debate the cornerstone of American democracy, but it also serves as an essential tool to increase your confidence, public speaking skills, and ability to research,” said Nadav Ziv (‘18), Co-President of the school’s Debate team.

Ziv’s fellow Co-President Ben Altschul (‘18) echoed this sentiment. “Tenafly debate offers a unique opportunity to improve skills crucial to success in life such as public speaking, critical thinking, and professionalism,” he said. “We look forward to a great season!”