Palo Alto High School competitors won first and second place at the annual Western States Championship debate competition, which was held at San Francisco State University on March 8 and 9.
The Western States Championship for Novice and Second Year Debaters is a competition for the top novice debaters of schools in western states, hosted by the Bay Area Urban Debate League (BAUDL). According to the BAULD website, the topic of this year’s competition was Latin America and economic engagement. The website goes on to say that “students will be debating about the environment, social justice movements, domestic politics, the structures of government, international relations, global economics and much more.” There are 25 competitors in the Western States Debate league.
Paly freshmen Collin Fee and sophomore Eric Foster tied for first place in this prestigious competition. Because two competitors from the same school cannot debate each other, the Fee and Foster shared the first place title. Second year debater and sophomore Anant Marur made it to finals and won second place in the tournament.
In the competition, debaters are judged based on their ability to speak and argue with fluency and persuasion. The debater who has the more persuasive argument wins.
This competition started with six preliminary rounds during which debaters face each other in a one-on-one debate that a group of judges pick the winner and award speaker points to each debater. After these preliminary rounds, eight debaters continue to the elimination rounds.
Fee, Foster and Marur all conducted award-winning performances. Marur, who won second in the tournament, won the first speaker award, meaning that he had the highest average for speaker points.
For winning first place, Fee and Foster won full scholarships to the Victory Briefs Institute debate summer camp, which costs about $2,450 for two weeks. The runner -up, Marur, won a half scholarship for the same camp.
Marur was also sucessful earlier in the debate season, when he qualified for the Tournament of Champions at the Alta Tournament, which took place in December of 2013.
This is not the first year that Paly students have been successful at the Western States Championship. Last year, sophomore Gabi Rossner was awarded the title of first speaker in the novice category, while fellow sophomore Andy Gibson made it to the quarterfinal round. Like Fee and Foster, Rossner and sophomore Arianna Groetsema shared the championship title.
According to Executive Director of the BAULD, Dmitri Seals, the goal of the competion is “to provide an opportunity for first and second year debaters to experience a spring championship tournament in an atmosphere that promotes learning and prepares the debaters for more advanced competition.”