Six of our debaters qualified to move to elimination rounds. Ryan and Maxwell took 4th Place Varsity; Meghana and Oliver took 6th and Jackson and Panchali took 2nd Place Novice! Congratulations to all our debaters!
Congratulations to Michael H. for winning Best Position Paper at Boston Middle School MUN and to Jacob for attending his first MUN Conference!!
January 14th was nothing short of an incredible day for Westfield! We brought 16 students to the private school league competition at Loomis: Grace, Panchali, Kay-Lin, Claribel, Aravind, Charles, Jack, Marlah, Seamus, Oliver, Greg, Kyle, Meghana, Ryan, Patrick and Maxwell. They all debated a very challenging resolution after spending an hour reading and discussing an informational packet: Resolved, that in the United States of America, formal agreements, including Non-Disclosure Agreements and Out of Court Settlements, should never include a provision that a victim of sexual harassment is to remain silent about his or her sexual harassment as part of the agreement.
Westfield swept!! We won 1st Place Advanced Speaker - Maxwell, 2nd Place Advanced Speaker - Patrick, 3rd Place Advanced Speaker - Ryan and 5th Place Advanced Speaker - Meghana!! We also won Top Advanced team- Patrick and Ryan! We also won Top Advanced Four-Person team - Ryan, Patrick, Maxwell and Meghana - with an incredible average of over 90 points per debater per round! We also won Top Novice Speaker - Marlah - and 4th Place Novice team - Claribel and Marlah!!
This league includes Choate, Hotchkiss, Andover, Exeter and Roxbury Latin. We have been competing for many years in this league. I have never seen one school dominate a competition like this. It was really exciting.
Westfield brought 11 debaters to the January Connecticut Debate Association Competition: Kyle, Brendan, Ryan, Patrick, Kay-Lin, Isabelle, Panchali, Ananya, Claribel, Jackson and Marlah. For Kay-Lin, Isabelle, Ananya and Marlah it was their first time at a CDA tournament.
Marlah took 6th Place Overall Novice and three Firsts in the Room! Ananya took 11th Overall Place Novice. Marlah and Claribel took 10th Place Novice team and Ananya and Panchali took 11th. Kay-Lin and Isabelle were not far behind at 17th.
Ryan took 16th Place Overall Varsity.
Sometimes, despite our best planning, at the last minute someone can't attend and we can't find a replacement. This happened at this competition. Luckily, at CDA tournaments they pair singletons. Sometimes, you get paired with someone who is a perfect match and sometimes not. Ultimately, you are scored as an individual so it is possible to win an award even if your partner doesn't do well. Jackson's partner had to drop out and so he was paired with a boy from another school. As it turned out, Jackson was a much stronger debater than his assigned partner. Every experience you get to debate teaches you important lessons. But it would have been very human for Jackson to complain. He chose to take the higher road. Jackson ended up placing third highest Novice for our school based on his individual performance. Even more importantly, he demonstrated exemplary behavior. I want to publicly acknowledge how polite and mature Jackson was on Saturday. Way to go Jackson!
Congratulations to all our debaters!
Seventeen of our Westfield middle school debaters competed in a field of 234(!!) debaters from across the state in the largest to-date middle school debate tournament in this league. They argued the resolution: This House would institute year-round schooling. Competing for Westfield were: Michael Galla, Evan Davis, Tatiana, A.J., Grace, Abhi, Michael Hoffman, Ian, Kevin, Claire, Ananya, Nidhi, Eira, Rachel, Varun, Charles, Anisha. Of these 17, for 6 of them - Tatiana, Michael Hoffman, Ian, Ananya, Rachel and Varun - it was their first-ever debate competition.
Claire, Ananya and Nidhi made it to the Exhibition Round!! They are 10, 11 and 12- years old respectively and Ananya was in her first debate competition! They competed in the Exhibition Round against 3 seasoned 8th grade debaters! And they did a wonderful job! They were poised, calm, cool and collected. We were all so proud of them!
They ended up taking 2nd Place Overall Team, an incredible accomplishment especially in such a large field. Amazingly, of the top 9 teams who were all undefeated, 4 were Westfield teams!
The other undefeated Westfield teams were:
- Anisha, Charles and Varun - 4th Place Overall Team
- Grace, Abhi and A.J. - 8th Place Overall Team
- Kevin, Ian and Michael Hoffman - 9th Place Overall Team
Westfield also took 5 of the top 20 Individual Speaker places!
Nidhi was Second Overall Speaker! Kevin was Eight Overall, Anisha was 10th, Grace was 14th and Eira was 19th!!
Being honorable means being gracious in victory and when things don't go as you hoped. I saw some remarkable acts of courage on display Saturday from our middle schoolers. Claire, Ananya and Nidhi were remarkably courageous in the way they conducted themselves on that stage. There were also other less visible acts of courage. Two of our debaters - Jacob and Annika - were sick and couldn't come leaving their teams down a debater. Tatiana stepped up on the last day to join one of the teams so they would have 3. This was a hard thing to do because she wasn't prepared. It was also a challenge for her teammates because it meant being flexible with their arguments and order which is very hard. And Eira and Rachel - who was at her first tournament - found out late the night before the tournament that they had to argue as a 2-person team rather than a 3-person. None of these kids complained; they just did what they had to do. For one of our boys, he has unfortunately had this happen before. His initial reaction was to say he wasn't coming but when he realized that would leave his other teammate with no one he agreed to do it anyway. I know how hard that was for Michael and I am very proud of you.
There is also courage required when you feel the judges' scores do not accurately reflect the round. While it is true that judging is subjective, it is also true that sometimes the scores don't accurately reflect a round. We do our best to provide judges with training but sometimes the results of a round can leave you scratching your head. As I always tell the kids, you can never live or die based on one competition. But, eventually, as we have seen time and time again at Westfield, cream rises. If you keep working hard and getting better and better, good things happen.
We are very proud of all our debaters and all the courage and graciousness that Westfielders displayed in spades on Saturday!!
Thank you so much to our parent judges: Garrett Flynn, Catherine Flynn and Anshuman Prakash! We couldn't do this without you. And to the parents who trained on Saturday so they can judge in the future: Vidya Sundaram and Mamatha Kadiyala.
Eight of our MUNers attended this year's UCONN Model UN conference. The delegates were: Emmerson, Sia, Claribel, Seamus, Marlah, Michael H., Piper and Brendan. It was a great few days with our kids, and over 300 other students, grappling with pressing international issues such as Black Market Arms Trading in the 21st century, Taiwan-China relations, integrating refugees into the society of the host country and combatting the effects of climate change on hunger. Our delegates did so well. For Emmerson, Sia, Claribel, Michael and Brendan, it was their first-ever conference. Very few awards are given in MUN conferences; UConn decreased it even further this year only giving 2 awards per committee. Amazingly, Westfield won 4!! Michael H. (a first timer!), Brendan (also a first timer!) and Piper all won Best Delegate Awards in their committees - the highest award given. Marlah, in the very intense Security Council, won a Most Improved Delegate Award. Congratulations to these 4 and to all our MUNers for a job very well done!!
8 Westfielders left in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday morning to drive to New York for the Vassar Invitational Debate Tournament. Panchali, Ananya, Meghana, Ryan, Kyle, Ben M., Patrick and Oliver each debated 5 rounds. It was a high-level tournament with a lot of strong New York teams. Four of our debaters - Meghana, Oliver, Patrick and Ben M. - made it to the quarter-finals!! Unfortunately, the tournament got behind and they had to break to semis so our 4 didn't have a chance to compete further. But we are very proud of them for making it that far!
Twelve of our middle school debaters -- Evan, Jacob, Eira, Claire, Nidhi, Aravind, Anisha, Charles, Grace, A.J., Abhi and Clay (who observed) -- headed to the Connecticut Middle School scrimmage to debate the topic of whether national service should be compulsory in the United States. There were 170 debaters. Grace took 3rd place overall! This is especially notable because the first and second place went to teams that had a bye in one of their two rounds. Our team of A.J., Abhi and Grace took Second Place team behind the team with the bye!! Anisha got 8th place speaker overall, A.J. was 9th and Abhi was 11th!! Charles took 23rd speaker and Eira, in her first ever competition, took 28th! Aravind and Claire, also at their first ever competition took 36 and 46 respectively. Our team of Claire, Eira and Nidhi, all at their first competition, won both their rounds and were 9th overall! Our team of Charles, Anisha, and Aravind were 17th overall and Jacob & Evan won one of their two rounds. Jacob got a first in the room! We are so proud of all of you!!
Westfield had a wonderful and full weekend last weekend! Twelve students -- Panchali, Jackson, Eva, Jack, Patrick, Maxwell, Olive, Kyle, Ben S., Ben M., Ryan and Brendan --headed to Montreal in the pre-dawn hours on Friday for a British Parliamentary Tournament at McGill. This is an absolutely wonderful experience each year for us; the kids learn so much. British Parliamentary is a format that Canadian high school debaters do; I believe we are the only U.S. high school that does B.P. I love it because it teaches the kids so much. It is loads of fun with additional layers of strategy. It is great practice for our debaters because it strengthens many of the skills we use in our other debate formats. In addition, BP is becoming increasingly popular in the US at the collegiate level so this is good training for our students many of whom go on to be competitive debaters in college.
Our kids did great! It is challenging because we were the only American team at the competition and all the Canadian teams do British Parliamentary all the time including weekly competitions. Our team of Ben Mione and Ben Small was our first Westfield team and took 17th place overall. We had a three-way speaker tie for highest Westfield speaker between Ben Mione, Patrick and Maxwell at 41st place. Our novice team of Eva and Jack took 8th Place Junior team and Jackson and Panchali took 9th place! Ryan, although a junior, competed on a Varsity team. Based on his scores, he took 6th place Junior Speaker!
We are so proud of all our debaters!!
Westfield brought 8 debaters to the St. Seb's debate tournament: Marlah, Grace, Jack, Oliver, Kyle, Ryan, Ben Mione and Patrick. It was a wonderful day!
Congratulations to Patrick for winning 3rd Place Advanced Overall and Top Speaker for our school! And to Ben M. for winning 4th! And to Patrick, Ryan, Ben M. and Kyle for having the highest points of all the Advanced 4-person teams!
Kyle, Piper, Ryan and Patrick debated at Duncaster Retirement Community on the issue of whether a professional athlete should stand during the playing of our National Anthem. The debate was incredibly well received by the audience who enthusiastically asked questions and made comments. One of the senior citizens made the comment that it was so refreshing to hear people respectfully engage with a very divisive issue. She said she feels like everyone is tiptoeing around each other afraid to hurt feelings but desperate to talk about important issues. They were very impressed by the level of the discourse and argumentation demonstrated by our debaters.
The debaters were eagerly invited back to do another debate soon. Thanks to these 4 debaters for taking the time to give back to the community! And, of course, to have ice-cream!!
We are so proud of the wonderful job Brendan, Maxwell, Panchali, Gregory, Sharon, Meghana, Benjamin S., Patrick, Oliver, Benjamin M. Piper, Kyle, Jackson and Ryan did this weekend debating on such short notice! Benjamin Mione and Maxwell Shulman broke and advanced to quarter finals on Sunday! Ben Mione won the 2nd speaker overall!