A year ago, the EGHS Debate team had 10 members – not bad for a brand new effort. One year later, the team has grown to 36 students. And already this year, many of the new members have tasted sweet success.
East Greenwich had the top “novice” debate team in its first tournament of the season, at Cumberland High School last week – Ben Markstone and John Hare placed first out of 66 teams. Individually – out of all 130 novice debaters – Hare placed second and Markstone placed third.
John Hare, left, and Ben Markstone place first out of 65 novice division teams.
Six EG novice teams placed in the top 20 (see results below).
I’m very proud of the team we have fielded this year, “ said Michael Penza, EGHS English teacher and coach. “To go from 10 students to 36 in a year is amazing and the results speak for themselves.”
The big boost in numbers is partly because the English Department just started offering Parliamentary Debate as an elective this year, Penza said.
“It’s an amazing class,” he said. “So we’re kind of casting this big net and some of these kids who see they’re doing very well in class wanted to come to the tournament.”
There are only two divisions in debate, novice and varsity, so the students who were on the team last year are competing against a lot of students who’ve been debating for years. At the Cumberland tournament, none of the members of the varsity team were recognized.
“We didn’t have a place finish there yet but we’re working toward that,” Penza said. In competition, after three rounds of debating, the top 30 percent of teams and the top 30 percent of speakers are awarded.
“We’re building foundations now. These kids are so excited to be there – practicing and really getting into it. Extemporaneous speaking is really off the cuff and it’s a tough skill to master.”
It seems like EGHS is well on its way.
Debate results for East Greenwich:
Novice Teams (out of 66 teams)
1st Ben Markstone & John Hare
11th Angela He & Christian Liu
15th Dan O’Hara & Zach Lepre
18th Elise Warren & Abby Allaire
19th Grace Webb & Jared Maymon
20th Stephan Toljan & Sam Wronski
Novice Individuals (out of 132)
2nd John Hare
3rd Ben Markstone
13th Dan O’Hara
14th Elise Warren
15th Connor VanWinter
16th Angela He
19th Sam Wronski
21st Grace Fitch
38th Grace Webb
40th Christian Liu
Places of Varsity Teams (out of 66)
25th Zack Johnson and Yash Dhuri
48th Katie Hollingsworth and Jeremy Bernard-Sasges
55th Molly Bisset & Katie Allen
58th Michaela Natal and Milan Toljan