What was debate all about? It was about finding your true self and expressing it to others. It was an opportunity to grow and develop a growth mindset, but after all a place where hard work was encountered. As they say, nothing comes easy, but the opportunities I have gained being there no one would ever expect to get . A girl with no experience, who procrastinated to do the work but knew was capable of achieving anything she wanted. But debate wasn’t just the work you got . It is furthermore than that. This was an eye opener opportunity to see the career I would like to one day pursue. Become a lawyer. It showed me morals and responsibilities and how I had to work for them . It was about the team work you had to do. A place where you had to rely on your partner, but for support. The effortful nights of hard work. The crucial failures everyone had , but most importantly I had to go through. The prepping and organizational skills we all had to learn to beat other teams. But it all builds up to it…. What did it offer me? The chance to compete in a state championship and become a semi-finalist of it. The chance to talk to kids about my experience and motivate them to want to continue the legacy. It gave me the unconditional support of having a coach who was devoted to see us as a team to do our best. Who pushed everyone to give 100%. It was these small things that shaped me to be who I am now. I was a finalist who had no confidence before, nor desire to actually move on further. Debate has given me the most important lesson as a person that no matter what ethnicity you come from, nothing shall never stop you from giving your best. I had advance to every round for the desire of wanting to win for my school Ps/218 whom none of this would’ve been possible to do. To my hispanic community who helped me be the fierce and wildest competitor. People want to know who I am now, and with all of the things learned in debate I can now help open a debate team in my high school and help lead it. School officials and authorities, have been impressed with my potential and intelligence. But I owe the person I am now to debate and to my coach who worked hard. The more you put in, the more effort you see. My trophy was the result of who I became. It really is a life changer. I feel a winner and this program helped me gain my confidence. The world’s future leaders are those who effortfully always try until succeed. That’s who I am. A semi-finalist of a state championship. It’s the diversity exposure that you receive that makes you welcomed and the way all nations and races compete shows how you should always seize every opportunity to be better. – Genesis Vasquez, International Leadership Charter High School
A part from being away from my family and the greatest city in the world, I think one of my biggest regrets of not going to school in NYC, is not being able to continue to participate and give back to the NYCUDL that has taught me the beauty of community, strength of confidence, and the power in hope, as a young black boy, searching for his identity and facing the struggles that are prominent in underrepresented and underprivileged communities. Thanks to hashtag#KIPP that introduced me to NYCUDL and the NYCUDL itself, I now have the voice, security, and diligence to articulate myself. I hope to see the new generations of powerful young men and women who will soon take the world by storm by being a part of the NYCUDL! – Trevor Brown
Obdulio Martinez, an eighth-grader who has been on the team since sixth grade, said his “speaking and reading and skills were not the best,” but debate helped him to catch up on those skills. “I learned how to read faster and read in a condensed amount of time.” (https://debate…)
“My favorite part about it is that when you talk about something, you can let your opinion out about something and you can just be yourself,” Kamilah said. She admitted past trouble in English classes, but said her grades are “in the 80s category.” (https://debate…)
“‘Most of my life,’ he said, ‘I don’t know why—I’ve always liked to argue about things. Ever since I was little, I’ve always debated. No opinion was right until I proved it right.’” (“At City Debate Championships, A Brooklyn Team Perfects the Art of the Argument,” http://www… (3/23/16) – Josiah, Success Academy Brooklyn
“One of the most special things about debate, it really helps you find yourself. because all the arguments come from the heart. It really changed the way I think.” – Miana Vega ACORN HS, National Championship Qualifier, Tournament of Championships Qualifier
“You are never too young to be a good debater. Good debaters can come out of anyone and anywhere. So your ability and passion for the things that you do makes you a good debater. – Daushan, PS 161
All of us have a debater in us because all of us want justice and all of us know how to stand up for ourselves” – Herbert, PS 161
“I think debate makes kids feel like they have a force that nobody can deny… Debate makes me feel like I’m very smart, and very bright, and that I have a great future ahead of me.” – Franklin, 8th grader
Hello, I am 12 years old, and I am a debater. When I got my first trophy it was amazing. I felt like a queen. That trophy was the first trophy I have ever gotten in my life. That trophy changed my life forever. I was nervous when I got it too. I just want to say thank you, thank you for everything. – Anissa P., 6th Grade, Great Debater, Family Life Academy Charter School
I joined debate because I want to become a lawyer. My teacher Ms. Norman thought joining the debate team would help jumpstart my career. The best aspect of debate is reading fast. Because if you read fast and clear you get a chance to prove your point and the explanation behind that. From debating and the coaches, I learned aspects of problems going on in the world. – Amanda S., 6th Grade, Great Debater at Mott Hall Academy, first year debater
“The prizes aren’t just the trophies and the medals, but the knowledge that you will keep with you forever”-Ammy Ovando, 8th grade, PS 161
“When I started debate I assumed I would lose. But after one year in debate,I’ve changed a lot. Debate makes me feel alive. I am not afraid to raise my hand in class. I’m an open person. Having debate in my life means havingfreedom. Debate has taught me that sometimes you can rise above. And it brings me hope.”-Feiry Guaba, 7th grade, PS 161
“As a Latino male, the topic of Stop and Frisk laws was fascinating to me. I’ve seen people get stopped and frisked who should have been protected by the4th amendment. But they didn’t know about the 4th amendment. There is a chance I could be targeted, so I have to learn more about this issue.”-Jalen Guichardo, 7th grade, PS 161
“I went to an all-girls debate at Hunter College. In a regular tournament, your partners are from your own school, but here they mixed everybody up. I was partnered with some older girls from the Anderson School. They gave me a lot of tips, and I think soon I’ll be just like them. I’ll jump oﬀ of what they are doing and do it my own way. Before I went to debate, I was shy and had trouble speaking. When I went for the very ﬁrst time, it inspired me. I’ve learned so many strategies about how to communicate, and my writing has improved. One day, when I am a lawyer, I’ll say it’s all because of debate. That’s when I started pushing. It all started there.”-Jasmine Rodriguez, 5th grade
“The hardest moment was ﬁnding out we didn’t advance to the sem-ﬁnals,” says Katherine Rosas, a 7th grader. “I was devastated. But my team was there for me.”After top ten showings at ﬁve tournaments in a row, and going undefeated at three, the excellent 3-on-3 team had become accustomed to glory. But at the Westchester Classic this February, it was their teammates Mohamed Conde, Syu Caballero and Gregory Carter who claimed victory. “I’m proud of us for losing,” says 7th grader Allan Rivas, reﬂecting on Westchester. “Losing makes you better.”“At ﬁrst we were frustrated, but debate teaches you how to appreciate the successes of others,” says Benitez
“When my mom came and saw a debate, she was so excited to see me doing something productive, bonding with other kids and making friends, being serious but also having fun.” -Rajendra Singh, 7th grade, PS 161
“It’s weird, but if you are a gooddebater, people think that you shouldn’tbe running in the hallway. I wonder whythey think that being a good debater means you would be less likely to run in the hallway? I guess they start to expect more of you.”-Herbert Espinal, 6th grade, PS 161
Why do I debate? Debate is an activity that gives anyone interested in learning, the opportunity to obtain knowledge in both politics and critical arguments. However, on a more personal level, debate is simply something that I love; something that motivates me to do better in school and in life. Besides being with amazing friends at tournaments, debate allows me to express myself and express ideas that I have in mind. It allows anyone to argue what they want, and have a personal connection to their advocacies. Debate has taught me to look at every side of an argument, and the atmosphere of being with such intelligent individuals has the potential in itself to motivate anyone to do better. As the son of Hispanic immigrants, debate and Bronx Law has given me a chance to compete at some of the national circuit tournaments with some of the most prestigious high schools and debaters around the nation attending; something I never even thought possible. This feeling of being able to compete with the best, is what motivates me to debate, and ultimately keeps me going to every debate tournament. Even when encountered with budget problems, there is nothing that stops me from debating and from teaching/telling other people about the beauty of policy debate. Besides getting the adrenaline rush from standing in front of judges and teams from around the country, the adrenaline I get from teaching novices about debate is another wonderful aspect of this activity; teaching others what you know and spreading knowledge. This is especially true for a school like Bronx Law, where coaching and resources may be limited at times. However, communication and discussions between alumni, is one of the aspects that has made this group ultimately as strong as it has become. Before being apart of the debate team at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice I was never given the opportunity to explore and research the amount of literature that I find myself reading today. From the philosophies of Foucault, Nietzsche, Hillman, and Heidegger to arguments about race, sexism, capitalism, and militarism. Before Bronx Law I found myself conforming only to the normal, reading literature assigned in school or by teachers. However, Bronx Law and debate gives anyone their own sense of individuality, allowing themselves to research and explore the ideas and literature of people who’s ideas have had influential impacts in society. – Lenny Herrera, 11th Grade Great Debater at the Baccalaureate School, Octafinalist at the Harvard University Debate Invitational
“I was recruited to join a policy debate team. Not the most popular activity to do, I stayed on the team simply because I was afraid of what would become of me if I didn’t. With a pregnant best friend at 13 and gangs controlling many Bronx neighborhoods, I thought it was a matter of time until something would go wrong in my life. Through debate, I decided I wanted to go to college at fifteen, and once I wanted it, passion took over…. Debate proved to be the platform of my education. Not only did it build a confident woman in me, it put me in a setting that allowed me to meet remarkable people that have continued to shape my life for the better. I am indebted with the LGJ debate team…” – Maribel Vaquez, writing in her successful Fulbright Scholarship application. Maribel is a graduate of the Bronx School of Law, Government and Justice and one of our top debaters. She was accepted to Franklin and Marshall College on a full scholarship from the Posse Foundation (all expenses paid).
I joined the debate team because I usually argue a lot so I always enjoy it when I’m right. Also, I have a good feeling every time I’m right. Also I have a good feeling every time I have something to destroy someone else’s logic. In debate I like having to be able to working in a team or group. The reason why is because then I get to brainstorm with my partner and see what we can come up with that will show how our team is right and how the other team is wrong. I learned a lot about debate that I didn’t know like solvency, plan, inherency and a lot of other things… our coaches Annie and Adrie are really good because so far when they have taught me in debate they went back so I can understand what the topic or subject was about. I’ve only been to one tournament but my experience was great. I was able to lose my first ever debate, which was bad but then I was able to use that to win my second one – Dalien R., 7th Grade, Great Debater, Mott Hall Academy
I hadn’t seen my father since I was 10 years old. But I always wrote to him in jail about what I did on the Debate Team and all the trophies I got. One day at night he surprised me at home! And the first thing I showed him were my debate trophies. He was so proud of me he bragged about how his daughter is in the debate team and how many people don’t have the courage to stand up in front of others and speak their mind, debate is a part of me and it will forever be a part of me. Everything about it excites me and I appreciate everything my coach has done for the team. He has been kind of like a second father to me, we are all about teamwork not only within debate but overall we help each other out! – Ashley M., 8th Grade, Great Debater at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice, 1st Place Winner at multiple middle school tournaments, as well as Quarterfinalist at the Manchester Invitational (high school division! and debated by herself!)
Over the summer I was granted the opportunity to go to Emory university National Debate Institute an University of Missouri Kansas city summer debate camp on a Urban Debate League discount. Emory has a strong relationship with UDL schools being that they started the first UDL program in Atlanta Georgia. I spent six weeks at Emory perfecting my skills and working with amazing instructors while debating against some of the most competitive debaters. At Emory we had 10 hours of lab a day, with at least one practice debate or speech exercise worked in. Six week at Emory went by fast and before I knew it, the tournament was here and I was anxious to compete. My parter and I broke as the second overall seed of the tournament taking only one loss to the top seed who we would eventually debate in the final round in front of everyone. The second portion of my summer debate EXPERIENCE was at University of Missouri Kansas-City. This camp was shorter and more evidence intensive than Emory. At the camp from the first day I knew who my partner was going to be. The only other UDL debater from in state. We quickly became friends and shared UDL stories not knowing that two weeks from that day we would be debating in the finals of the camp tournament being top seed. During my debate summer I learned a plethora about debate that I hope to share with younger debaters in league. My experience would not have been possible without the support from my school and my membership in the UDL. — Jesus Raul Cepin, Bishop Loughlin, 12th Grade
I am volunteering to teach debate at the school Family Life Academy Charter School. They didn’t know debate existed till I came along. For the last couple of months I’ve been teaching there. Their students and teachers have been learning different things every time that I show up. I’ve been teaching them debate skills on how to speak, research, building arguments, how to take down notes, question during cross-examination, and how to win. When they went to their first tournament one of my teams won 9th place. They were so excited and I was soooo excited for them! It was a great way to start off the year. – Yaira Brito, 8th grade Great Debater at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice, Assistant Debate Coach, Quarter-Finalist Best Team at the Middle School National Debate Championship in San Antonio, Texas
I practiced for months and trained for hours and hours for Mr. Fogel’s debate team. My partner for our debate was a close friend of mine and we were so nervous to go against these private Manhattan schools who hire coaches to train their students to exceed in their speeches and basically destroy us. Being from a public Bronx high school, we didn’t have much faith in one another. What we did have though, was Mr. Fogel. Mr. Fogel was the only debate teacher and coach in our whole entire school. Mr. Fogel taught me how to speak properly, research, build my arguments, how to take down notes and overall how to win. My partner and I arrived at the tournament feeling confident and smart…. I debated with the best of my ability and was awarded the third best speaker at the whole tournament! I was so proud of myself and ever since then I have won many awards! And I owe it all to Mr. Fogel who had faith in all of us and helped us achieve greatness. Debate has made me feel like a new person because it showed that I could do more work than I thought I was capable of. – Nalia Santiago, 10th Grade, Great Debater at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice, debater since 7th grade
Due to my involvement in debate the HEOP (Higher Education Opportunity Program) staff took interest in me and accepted me to Hamilton College via their HEOP program which I received a full scholarship to Hamilton College. In the letter they said they were most impressed with my debate achievements and being captain on the debate team! Debate has given me so many skills and knowledge. We learn about things we do not learn in class and we compete against the best in the nation. I would not be valedictorian of my school if it wasn’t for debate! In college I hope to keep on working to help debaters in the Bronx. – Erika Marte, 12th Grade, Great Debater at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice, 2011 Gates Millennium Scholar, 3rd Place Best Speaker and Semi-Finalist Best Team at the New York State Debate Championships
My mom had me when she was 14. My uncle sold weed to buy me pampers but went to jail. We had to pay $1,200 to bail him out or he had to stay in jail for 5 years. I don’t want to follow his footsteps so doing debate helps me stay out of trouble and get a good education and go to college. – Tiauna G., 8th grader, Great Debater at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice, Quarter-Finalist at the New York State Middle School Debate Championships
My uncle was shot in the neck by his friend because his friend was in a gang selling drugs. My uncle was selling drugs too and there was a fight. They found him on the ground, called police and an ambulance, and took him to a hospital, and he almost died. He survived and now he’s off the streets. So one thing I like about debate is we are in a safer environment, inside the school, we’re not outside. In debate I have friends, I can read better, it’s helped me in classes in general. A lot of the topics I learn in social studies, I already learned in debate. I’m successful and win many trophies. That keeps me on the right track. – Ashley C., 8th grader, Great Debater at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice, 9th Place Best Speaker at the Middle School National Debate Championships
“I have set myself apart from my peers by overcoming a language and cultural barrier to succeed as a student, a debate team member, and a community leader. Throughout the course of my life, I have always been drawn to challenges. For example, when I was four years-old and still living in the Dominican Republic, I convinced my mother to take me to a tutoring program in our neighborhood. The problem was that the program was for high school students—not pre-schoolers. Nevertheless, I was curious about what the big kids were learning, and I begged my mother until she complied. “Here, you have a new student,” my mother said as she smiled and shook her head at the program leader, who took me in as a favor. Indeed, I became a new student sitting among the big kids. When I started school the following month, I was the only kindergartner who already knew how to read and write. That experience was my first introduction to the power of learning and the power of persistence. Such challenges continue to enrich my academic life and performance. My new confidence helped me seek out new challenges, such as public speaking. As a member of my school’s debate team, I won a Best Speaker award in 2011, six years after arriving in America speaking only Spanish. To incorporate my passion for community service with my newfound love for debate, I create a debate team at my former school. As a debate coach for the New York City Debate League, I am committed to broadening my community’s educational endeavors. Students learn public speaking and argumentation skills which they in turn use to compete in debate tournaments throughout New York City. Because we come from a crime-ridden community, it is heartwarming to see these students transform, from individuals predestined to fail because of limited resources, into newly changed enthusiasts with a positive outlet for expression of their ideas of the world. Through debates featuring U.S intervention in the Syrian conflict and U. S.-Chinese Relations, participants learn about social issues including human trafficking, discrimination, poverty and corrupt politics. Perhaps the most gratifying of all is knowing that I served as a catalyst to creating the new reality that these students now inhabit–a reality where they can change the world with words, arguments, and ideas. My involvement with the New York City Debate league has served as a catalyst for all of my successes. I have completed 1,780 hours of community service and travelled around the country and world to places like Washington D.C., Atlanta, Costa Rica, Finland, Russia and Sweden. I have also been the Scholar of the Year at my school for three consecutive years and will be graduating as my class’ Valedictorian. Additionally, I will be joining Columbia University’s Class of 2018 this fall as a Coca Cola Scholar, New York Times Scholar, Ronald McDonald Scholar, Dell Scholar and the most prestigious, Gates Millennium Scholar. I am looking forward to all of the opportunities that the New York City Urban Debate league will open to my future academic and social endeavours.” – Sorangel Liriano
” My name is Celines Berroa and I will be graduating in June 2014. Throughout my high school career I was always engaged in a lot of extracurricular activities- many involving giving back to the youth; or programs that will improve my academics. However, the most impactful of all extracurricular activities have been my involvement within the debate team. I joined debate my sophomore year of high school and for more than 2 years I have seen myself grow both in terms of academics and social skills. Before the debate I wasn’t really into history as I should have been. But after joining debate- I’ve seen myself more interested in history, especially African American history. I love to learn about subjects such as slavery and xenophobia. More specifically, modern day slavery which is a topic that is always within the debate sphere. It has helped my social skills because I am no longer timid and I am not afraid to present within class. When applying to college debate- it made me more prepared. Fogel always emphasized be a great debater- and for a long time I didnt know what that meant- but after 2 years of debate and now a senior going to college- I have realized the true meaning of a great debater- and I am a true debater.” – Celines Berroa
Hello, My name is Stephany Castillo. I will be graduating from Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice in June and will be attending Alfred University this fall on a full scholarship. I gained a lot of opportunities because of The NYC Urban Debate League such as a full scholarship to college, semifinalist for the Posse Foundation scholarship, interviews and internship opportunities. I volunteered for the past 4 years in my high school career. Volunteering as a judge and a coach has been the best experience I could possible experience. As a student learning about politics then going on to teach children younger than yourself impacts the way you view education and the world. You become more educated while teaching, so its a never ending cycle of learning. I am very appreciative of the opportunities and the experience I gain being a debater and I hope to take this knowledge and leadership skills on to college. – Stephany Castillo
“When I was younger I was always doing stupid stuff, hanging out in streets, hanging out with the wrong people. I thought they were my friends. When I got arrested, none of them were there for me. It was like I was trapped in a box. And only my mother was there for me, none of my friends. And so I realized I didn’t want to be in that situation again. I wanted to use my powers for good and not evil. I set a goal for myself. I started building step by step, started accomplishing stuff, of course I failed sometimes. But I noticed I really liked debate and it’s a good opportunity to show what I really am and express yourself and your thoughts. As I started seeing I was good at it, I started getting bold and asking myself why can’t I do good in my other classes. That’s when they started shoving debate in my face and said if you don’t get your grades up you can’t go to debate tournaments, you can’t go on debate trips. And then I started being on top of my stuff, coming to school, getting good grades. I went from an average of 63 to an average of an 85. – Shantelle G., 9th Grade, Great Debater at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice, State Debate Championships Qualifier
Also, without Bronx Law, I would not have been able to go to any of the tournaments, grown as a debater, and grown as an individual over this past year. This school has been the road that led to an open door of endless possibilities. Although we find ourselves at times dealing with budget cuts (that at times do not allow us to and participate in some of the more prestigious tournaments), this never stops all of us at Bronx Law whom are truly dedicated to this activity. From the dedicated coaches at Bronx Law, and the atmosphere of having hard working kids from 6th to 12th grade, I encounter myself with many types of personalities. From those least experienced in middle school, to debaters who have been doing it since middle school and are now juniors; Bronx Law is one big family, joined together by our desire to go far. Overall, I am more than grateful for the opportunities that have arisen from getting involved in this activity. I am also more than grateful for being apart of the debate team at the Bronx School for Law Government and Justice. These past few months debating at the few national circuit tournaments and at the local tournaments have given me the hope and motivation to return next season and do better with my partner in the national circuit, and to become a true competitor. This giving the Bronx Law for Government and Justice the recognition it deserves for giving many minority students the opportunity to excel in such a rich and life changing activity. – Lenny Herrera, 11th Grade Great Debater at the Baccalaureate School, Octofinalist at the Harvard University Debate Invitational
I’ve never had a computer at home. This year my coach gave me a laptop which helped me greatly. Last year as a debater I only had a very small amount of evidence and arguments because my only medium of carrying my evidence was paper. This takes away from the essence of debate, which is to broaden your horizons by learning several things all at once. Now with my laptop I can download several pieces of evidence allowing my partner to defeat teams as well as gain so much more knowledge in and out of our various rounds. This is also how I have begun to create my own arguments and bring my personal talents to the debate community. This is why technology is extremely important for debaters like myself. – Petergaye Laine, 8th grade Bronx Great Debater at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice, 1st Place Best Speaker at both the New York City Debate Championships and New York State Debate Championships, 1st Place Best Debate Team at both the New York City Debate Championships and New York State Championships, and accepted to the Bronx High School of Science, one of the best high schools in America.
I’m volunteering at Mott Hall. I have been volunteering for the past couple of months. I have been teaching not only the students, but the teachers as well. I’m very lucky to teach these kids, because I’m able to spread the knowledge of debate on to a younger generation. We held a tournament at the Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice, and after the tournament finished the kids were super excited. Jessica, one of the top three speakers was super excited, and ever since that time, she has been attending debate practice and they have been researching and practicing for the new topic. – Annie Chen, 11th grade student, Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice, Assistant Debate Coach
Debate and Mock Trial have been the building blocks to success and accomplishment throughout high school for myself. It has been the ability to obtain large amounts of information, to process complicated literature, and support my arguments that has been skills highly used in the process of achievement and success in high school, and in hopes throughout life. I am the girl who came to school who’s palms began to sweat and checks turned pink when asked to speak in front of a audience, even simple tasks such as answering a question in class, and have now become the young adult who views the courtroom as a stage. But with participating in these activities, comes the need of resources and supplies. How must I gather analytical arguments when I don’t have computers or printers to print them on? How must I remember arguments, thoughts, and sparks of ideas if I don’t have paper to jot them on? How must I acquire information and learn if I don’t have books to read from? It has been these contributions by you that have made opportunities possible. I thank you so much.” – Viktoria Pashtriku, 12th grade, Great Debater at the Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice, 1st Place Best Speaker at the New York State Debate Championships, Semifinalist Best Debate Team at the New York State Debate Championships, 2nd Place Best Debate Team at the New York City Mock Trial Championships
If I would have to choose one thing I have done that has changed my life for the better, it definitely would be joining the debate team. It’s a life changing experience for many reasons. Joining the debate team made me a better person as well as a better student. You learn many skills that you can apply to your school work, such as researching, argumentation, time management, and working well with others. As an individual debate teaches one to stand firm by what they believe in. There are actual debaters who debate with real world implications, such as performance debate, where a debater applies personal narratives in a debate round to prove their point. The Bronx Law debate team is composed of students who were really passionate about debate, and how could they not be when they have an amazing coach like Erik Fogel. They are very supportive with all of us. I have never met a coach so passionate about helping students like Mr. Fogel. He has done the impossible for our education, something that not many coaches would do. But he seeks for the best interest of his students and has even stayed up all night just to help us with our research. All of the students have learned from Fogel and grown fond to him for all of his struggles to help us. I had never learned so much about my history and present day life as much as I have in debate. Through debate we travel to many states where schools are even more competitive. The only unfortunate part of all of this is that we are not funded. While other schools have about 5 coaches we only have 1. But we never let that become a problem. We are still a competitive team, regardless of the low funding. It is a pity that many students aren’t able to go to tournaments and go through these amazing experiences because of money problems. If anything, I believe that the debate team should be better funded in order to allow more students into this type of community. It helps one prepare for college, as well as having to balance out schedules. Debate opens doors to many things for a debater. I got straight 90’s on my test in global because I had already learned it through debate. If you are deciding on whether or not this program is worth-while, say no more. Funding this program doesn’t just mean you are helping more students debate. It means that students, who were raised in such bad areas like our neighborhood, can actually have a chance at learning about more than just how to survive on the streets. It allows for more of the youth to be educated. You wouldn’t only be helping another student debate, but help to shape the lives of young individuals towards a road to success. Thank You. -Zully R., 10th Grade, Great Debater at Clinton High School
Our son benefited tremendous from the debate program. It helped him gain confidence, become a critical thinker, developed his research skills and interests in learning multi disciplinary subjects. He was also able to get into a leadership position at his middle and high school debate club. Eventually, this helped him become a strong candidate for colleges, getting admission offers from multiple Ivy League colleges. He continued to use his skills in his college at Princeton University – Manoj Daga
. I judged my first debate tournament this past Saturday. It was one of my most enjoyable life experiences. I look forward to more tournaments. The students were awesome. I’m so glad I had this opportunity. Elaine G.
“I am very happy to let you know that my child has been with you since his third grade. Debate helped him to do exceptionally well in academics in his elementary and middle school years!! I thank you for your awesome support.” (Graduated middle school with the highest academic average of 103.24% and is now attending Bronx Science)
The event was a part of a partnership between the Education Department’s Middle School Quality Initiative and the New York City Urban Debate League. The competition was already a winner with IN-Tech’s parents and students as they said the skills their children learned from the extracurricular activity boosted their grades, self-confidence and social skills. “I’ve already seen the difference between elementary school and middle school and how much he’s already progressed,” said Diana Hernandez, whose son Jordan, a sixth-grader, joined the team this fall. “He was very shy in elementary school and now he’s more outgoing. He’s more [willing] to actually doing public speaking, which he never liked doing at all. He’s very excited and he’s very proud to be on the debate team.” Rosanna Mella, whose daughter Kamilah was also debating for the first time, like Jordan, said she was “very excited and proud.” Being part of the debate team has inspired Kamilah to become more interested in academics and to enjoy the reading and research that goes along with preparing for competition, Ms. Mella added. Before the club, Kamilah was primarily interested in the arts, and now her interests have expanded to science and technology, Ms. Mella said. (http://www…, https://debate…)
“NYC UDL community! Spent the weekend at Yale with a single team of 2 young debaters. I was worried that they would be all alone, but all our friends from the NYC UDL community took them in. Erik & Aubrey, you’ve not only made debate accessible to all but also created a place where a large group of diverse young people can come together as one strong community! So proud to be part of this amazing organization!”
As I sit here and read so many uninformed posts, I think (so many things, but let’s stick with the positive for now)…I am so grateful my kids spent the week at the New York City Urban Debate League. They, along with hundreds of other debaters this summer, are learning how to examine an issue from both sides, to make cogent arguments, cite evidence and most importantly care and engage in conversations that determine the course of our democracy. I have high hopes for the next generation to fix our problems, but a sincere wish that we get there before that so they can grow up in the world that they deserve. Many thanks to the NYCUDL for creating such an amazing program and all our friends in the debate community!
My daughter’s team won the title for Novice Middle School Parliamentary Debates. She told me that after the last debate, she is confident and skillful enough to pass any state test.
I’m overwhelmed with the skills my son has learned at debate camp and during the UDL season. Debate has challenged him to look at complex issues from every angle and developed his critical thinking skills as well as his ability to articulate his thoughts and arguments and back them up with factual evidence. I’m a huge fan of the NYCUDL!
During summer debate camp, I was able to witness my daughter, Isis Glover, grow in her communication and social skills.
My daughter Nicole, truly benefited from this program. She is more confident and learned a lot about tactical strategies that she is eager to use and apply at her debate club this upcoming school year. Her ability to understand the importance of perspectives, opinions, and facts has helped her to look at things in a more neutral place. I would definitely recommend this program to other children and parents.
My daughter was a newcomer to debate. The coaches and advisors were fantastic. She loved the experience and at the end of the two week camp she decided to start a debate club at her school in the fall.
My son participated in Harlem Debate Institute through HEAF and had an awesome experience. Each day he came home eager to share the knowledge he gained and the info and tools he learned about debating. He said it was a fun filled experience and is looking forward ro participating again next year. Thank you HDI for an amazing debate experience and for your amazing staff. Toni and son Jaylen
My daughter experienced the joy, power, and satisfaction of making a convincing heart-felt argument publicly—of listening and being heard—I truly believe this will change her life! (Anonymous)
This was an eye opening experience for my son honestly and I am thankful
During summer debate camp, I was able to witness my daughter, Isis Glover, grow in her communication and social skills.
Thank you for a wonderful week. My child, who was hesitant to try it for the first time, walked out at the end of the week feeling enlightened, engaged and proud. The counselors were encouraging and the topics were relevant to the issues of today. Thank you so much for the opportunity and we hope to return next year.
I also want to take a moment to thank you and your staff for an amazing year. This is our first year involved with UDL and I cannot express how much you and your staff have been of help. The amount of support we received has been unparalleled. Additionally, my students have grown so much because of your program. Some of my students have been sheltered growing up where they have. Not only has UDL introduced them to wonderful new people and teams, but it has taught them to look at the world through different lenses. This year has also allowed myself and my co-coaches to become much better at what we do. Thank you, Meredith Feigel, I.S.75 Social Studies Teacher,Debate Coach
Debate helps students who have had problems focusing academically or behaviorally because debate provides structure. When students become a debater, they become more aware about the problems that exist. Not only in their city and their state but the world. And what they learn about argumentation they will not learn typically in high school. They will learn feminism. They will learn Heidegger. They will learn Freire. As competitive as it is, some of the longest standing friends have come from debate. My first graduating students have become advocates at campuses across the country. They learned so much about themselves. And physically and and mentally they have grown. And as a teacher that is what you value most in term of any activity. – Ms. Bryce, ACORN High School
A year ago I thought debate was only for presidential hopefuls and students from the most exclusive schools. I never imagined I would become involved in coaching debate nor that 5th to 7th graders from the inner city school where I teach would be debating on sophisticated topics such as the U.S. federal government decreasing military presence in Afghanistan! With the unwavering support of Erik Fogel and his dedicated students from Bronx Law, the Family Life Academy Charter School began its first debate program for its middle school. We now have 26 students who are motivated and excited to be participating in this program. Initially, I was unsure about student’s ability to comprehend the challenging material however students have far surpassed my expectations. Despite a wide range of learning abilities, all students have benefited from participating in debate in one way or another. Some students are thriving from the new and challenging content and work hard at practicing debate skills. Others have improved their presentation and reading ability. All have learned something they would not normally have learned through standard instruction… As a teacher, coaching debate has been hugely rewarding because it has taught me that students are highly capable regardless of their ethnic background or learning ability. My students have proved there are no topics too complex or debate skills too challenging for them. I know that my students have grown in ways that will benefit them now and in the future. – Sue Chan, Middle School Teacher, Family Life Academy Charter School
I wanted to drop you a line to first thank you so much for everything that you do for my kids. They enjoy debating so much; they want to stay after school every day to research and practice. Their reading scores continue to increase, and their writing shows phenomenal growth, much higher than the average growth of other scholars in their class who are not in debate. Their engagement is insanely amazing and the rate at which they are digesting challenging current events topics and articles is astounding. Their parents are thrilled and also send their thanks. So this gets me thinking, what if school could be like this every second of every day for every scholar? – Katie Vitale, Frederick Douglas Academy
PS 161 is a K-8 school in Harlem with a vibrant elementary and middle school debate program. In partnership with the NYC Urban Debate League, the 161 Debaters participate in year round debate tournaments, workshops and practices hosted at PS 161 and around the city. For our students, the NYCUDL has provided transformative educational experiences. – Tyler Beattie, PS 161 Teacher
Our school is a partner of the New York City Urban Debate League (NYCUDL) and we highly recommend the NYCUDL for this opportunity to bring debate to more schools in the Bronx. The NYCUDL provides free debate opportunities for all our students. The NYCUDL also hosts special events for our students such as a televised debate at BronxNet television studio. The NYCUDL also supports travel opportunities for our students to travel and compete beyond the Bronx and New York City. This year we were able to host a Bronx debate tournament at our school because the NYCUDL provided everything for free including staff, meals, awards and everything else to host a successful debate tournament for our Bronx students. So we recommend Mr. Fogel and the New York City Urban Debate League for this grant so that more schools can have debate teams. – Samantha Katz, Teacher, One World Middle School (Bronx)
The New York City Urban Debate League provides free debate tournaments throughout the year for our school. We would not have a debate team without the New York City Urban Debate League and so we highly recommend the NYCUDL for this grant to continue and expand its work in the Bronx. Our students and entire school community have benefited immensely from debate. While most students are home on weekends, our debaters are busy on Saturdays all day reading, writing, researching, notetaking, questioning, and speaking on different current events each and every month! Again, we highly recommend the NYCUDLQ Thanks! – Fran Rossillo, Debate Coach and Teacher, Cornerstone Academy for Social Action (Bronx)
My name is Aylin Kuzucan and I was a NYC high school teacher and debate coach in the South Bronx. From my experience as a debate coach, I have found that it gives students an outlet to voice their frustrations with critical issues in society and to engage in an academic setting that is not present in their current classrooms. On my team, I had special education students, students with a history in the juvenile criminal system, and many other students that were trying to break the continued cycle of poverty. These students dedicated their weekends to debate tournaments and stayed after school for hours to finish researching their topics. Because of the NYC Urban Debate League, I was able to take my students to tournaments across the country, had access to free debate tournaments and camps in the city, and exposed students to academic resources outside of their school’s text books. The organizations is growing rapidly which means our funds that initially supported five schools must now support over 50. In most title I schools there are NO legal or civic education opportunities for low income schools and students. The vast majority of schools either have a basketball team for the boys and a Step/dance team for the girls. The majority of our youth experience with the law is not positive – family members in jail, negative relationships with members of law enforcement, and many of our youth incarcerated myself. So after school programs in law like debate, mock trial, moot court, public speaking – are unheard of. For further reading this is one of the many memories I have of my debaters: “Andy stood behind the podium passionately listing the reasons China would take the place of the United States as the world’s next superpower. The opposing team stood to ask questions, and Andy responded with vigor and enthusiasm, convincing the audience of his position. Andy’s partner, Sabrina, delivered the final remarks and led the room in tears as she recounted her family’s struggle to escape poverty: “without an increased concern in the lives of those in poverty, America will lose a large population of people who could help rebuild it to be the leader that it once was.”
Those who think public education is a lost cause should look no further than M.S. 50 in Williamsburg. There, Principal Ben Honoroff has leveraged his school’s Renewal resources, including additional learning time, to create a championship debate team. The debate program has not only won city-wide tournaments, but it has sharpened students’ critical thinking skills and helped them perform better on State ELA and math exams. http://www…
-NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina
IN-Tech’s debate coach and Middle School Dean Wendy Spector said the skills learned from debating also help writing, research, reading and speaking skills for participants. “It’s a structured environment to prove your point, to go back and forth. We all know that teenagers love to do that [and] prove their point,” laughed Ms. Spector. IN-Tech has participated in middle-school debates for four years. In addition to boosting academic skills, IN-Tech assistant principal Jim O’Toole said, he has seen more self-confidence and increased classroom participation and social skills in students.
According to figures from the Education Department, IN-Tech students’ performance on the state English test has improved dramatically over the past couple of years. In the 2013-2014 school year, only 14 percent of middle school students at the Kingsbridge school met New York State standards on the state English test, compared to 27 percent in the city and 15 percent in the district. The following year, the number rose slightly to 16 percent, but then nearly doubled to 30 percent in the 2015-2016 school year. http://www…
Dean Wendy Spector and Assistant Principal Jim O’Toole IN-Tech Academy
“When you think about a great high school experience, you think about a student competing on a debate team, or a robotics team, or in a Google science fair context, while having a great course of study. Those things exist in our society for some students at selective high schools or in affluent suburban high schools. The commitment that our city needs to make is that every student deserves access to a high school education that genuinely prepares them for the best colleges. It means that they need to understand what it means to work at a law firm, or at the U.N., or at a tech startup, or at a university research lab.” – Principal Eric Tucker, Brooklyn LAB School, Without ‘grit’ or ‘no excuses,’ how one charter high school is preparing to send high-needs students to college
Eric Tucker Principal , Brooklyn LAB School
“Debate teaches all of the skills that I hope my students will learn: reading comprehension, research writing critically, thinking critically, civic engagement, political consciousness. I remember as a teacher our debate team lost to a suburban school in a tournament and the students who won were using this argument from Foucault. Back at school, my students came up to me and begged me over lunch to teach them Foucault. It’s this external motivator that students really want to succeed and do well. At the middle school level, I preach to the students, debate is as much about listening as it is about speaking. It’s about hearing your opponent and understanding their argument, taking notes and then refuting that argument. It’s all the common core line skills that we’re teaching in our classes about identifying arguments, citing textual evidence, using academic language. All of those are really reinforced in debate. It just makes a lot of sense to have debate be a central piece of our school.” – Principal Ben Honoroff, MS 50 (Brooklyn)
Ben Honoroff Principal, Junior High School 50 – John D Wells
“A Silent Classroom is a classroom where there is untapped voices that are not heard. If you believe in democratic education, you have to focus on oratory…Speaking is a part of almost every classroom, but it can be easy to assume that students already know how to do things like challenge an idea or back up an argument with evidence. In reality, those oral communication skills must be explicitly taught like other core skills in school. And a well-spoken, confident young person will have occasion to use those communication skills throughout his or her life. Peter Hyman, School 21 cofounder and executive head teacher, says, “We need to elevate speaking to the same level as reading and writing.” – KQED, Mindshift, October 23, 2016
Peter Hyman School 21 cofounder and executive head teacher, School 21
I was extremely impressed by NYCUDL at the tournament I judged this past weekend, bringing a really powerful educational and voice-finding experience to so many students from a really diverse range of backgrounds, and I’m excited to judge more tournaments. To be overly sentimental, I think that sort of dialogue is empowering for the students and important for the good of the world.
“Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.”
– President Obama, State of Schools Address
“Those 4 years in debate were the educational foundation of everything I did. And I don’t mean that in some simple form…I’m saying the finest education I got from any of the institutions I attended, the foundation of my mind that I got during those 4 years of competitive policy debate; that is, 90% of the intellectual capacity that I operate with today–Fordham [University] for college, Fordham for the Ph.D., Harvard for law school–all of that is the other 10%.”
– John Sexton, President of New York University, Former NYC Debate Coach of 10 years
“The skills I developed in debate were of inestimable value in my later graduate education, in my training and research, in my government service: learning to think on my feet, or organize ideas, to take and use notes, to marshal evidence, to use my voice effectively. But the more important lessons were not these more technical ones. I was fortunate to have a debate coach who also taught that intellectual effort can be exciting; that ideas are more important than things; that pursuit of the truth is more important than winning contests; that intellectual honesty and integrity are among the virtues most to be cherished; that one need never be ashamed of idealism and strong convictions…” (Klopf, p7-8).
– Gardner Ackly, former presidential advisor
“My speech and debate experience and training at Pennsylvania State was the most important single educational experience of my life….Dialectical and communicative competencies and insights are the major educational values which result from participating extensively in forensics and debate. From my experience as a participant, coach and teacher, I believe those competencies and insights are better developed through forensic and debate experiences than any other educational experience” (Hunt, p15).
– Jerry M. Anderson, President of Ball State University
“Years of observing high school and college students in forensics have convinced me that this is one of the major contributions we in speech communication can make to the education of youngsters. It is our various forensics activities, more than in any other of our programs, that most of what we believe in and study can be brought together and passed on to each generation of students. It is in our various forensics activities that we can most effectively communicate the values that form the base of speech communication. And it is these activities that can best help our students to develop their capacities for leadership. It is no accident that such a large percentage of the outstanding leaders in our country have been high school or college debaters” (Hunt, p15).
– Sam Becker, former president, Speech Communication Association of America
“Debate not only improves one’s ability to speak publicly but improves the thinking process of the debater” (Huseman and Goodman, p226).
– Representative Charles E. Bennet of Florida
“As a Senator, my principal responsibilities are threefold: First, a Senator must do his best to reach logical policy conclusions about issues with which our nation is confronted. Second, a Senator should be able to effectively translate technical aspects of a position into language that will clearly communicate it to the public. Third, to be effective, a Senator must have the ability to persuade others to accept his policy conclusions. No aspects of my education was more useful in preparing me to meet these responsibilities than my training in speech and debate” (Hunt, p14).
– Senator David Boren of Oklahoma
“My debate experience at Bates was helpful in my post graduate study at Oxford. At all times the necessity of organizing ideas and presenting them vigorously has been pertinent to newspaper writing, asking questions at press conferences or interviewing statesmen was aided by my public speaking experience” (Hunt, p14).
– Erwin Canham, editor of the Christian Science Monitor
“I learned how to think critically, how to develop arguments, how to speak clearly, and how to research. Everything I do – teaching, writing, and advocacy – uses these skills. Perhaps less obviously, I learned word economy which has been enormously valuable. . . . in teaching, sign-posting and labeling is much appreciated by my students. In doing media interviews, the conciseness that comes from word economy is invaluable in doing soundbites. Also, very importantly, as you know so well, debate forces one to be efficient in using one’s time and prepares one for juggling the many things we all must do.”
– Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law
“As a former debater I know of the tremendous benefits which can be derived from the process of educating oneself to take part in discussions of vital national issues (Huseman and Gordon, 226).”
– Senator Frank Church of Idaho
“The principal value of debate lies in the development of logical thought processes, and the ability to articulate your positions publicly” (Huseman and Goodman, p226).
– Senator Dick Clark of Iowa
“I cannot think of any one in the country who owes more to his participation in the national Forensic League events than I do” (Freely, 1960, p121).
– Frank G. Clement, Governor of Tennessee
“Debate was the single most important activity I participated in at the Naval Academy” (Lundquist).
– Admiral William Crowe, Four Star Admiral, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Ambassador to England
“If I were to choose any single activity in college which has contributed most to my career, I would certainly choose debating” (Hunt, p16).
– Samuel B. Gould, President, Antioch College
“Debating is one of the most valuable academic exercises in which I have ever engaged. It taught me to speak on my feet, to organize my thoughts, and to defend and refute a point. All of these abilities have stood me in good stead during my career as an attorney, as judge and now, as a U.S. Senator” (Hunt, p14).
– Senator Howard Heflin of Alabama
“The group developed fellowship and team camaraderie which had important by-products for personal growth. The visits to other schools, and travel experience, the living and working together – all under the high expectations of the ‘Coach’ and his most gently administered but ever firm supervision – made for an individual development which has remained for me a high point in my educational experience. The meaning of scholarship, the ‘feel’ for the handling of ideas, the fellowship of professional service were for me but some of the outcomes of my debate experience” (Hunt, 16).
– David B. Henry, President of the University Illinois
“The wisest advice I can give to persons considering debate as an activity is: ‘participate.’ In my opinion, hour for hour, the reward for time spent debating is greater than any other activity available to the typical student… In addition to the “academic” benefits, potential participants should be alerted to the life long friendships they will develop, the opportunity to associate with competitive, creative and bright young people, as well as the favorable view of the activity taken by potential employers” (Matlon and Keel, p201).
– Thomas F. Hozduk, Los Angeles Attorney
“…I joined the debating team, which was sponsored by Mr. Virgil Parks, our Latin teacher. That’s where I developed my speaking skills and learned to think on my feet. At first I was scared to death. I had butterflies in my stomach – and to this day I still get a little nervous before giving a speech. But the experience of being on the debating team was crucial. You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your brains won’t get you anywhere” (Iacocca, 16).
– Lee Iacocca, CEO of Chrysler
“It was my experience with debating and public speaking in both high school and college that led me to become a lawyer, and ultimately, a member of Congress” (Williams).
– Representative Paul E. Kanjoriski of Pennsylvania
“I think debating in high school and college a most valuable training whether for politics, the law, business, or for service on community committees such as the PTA and the League of Women Voters. A good debater must not only study material in support of his own case, but he must also, of course, thoroughly analyze the expected arguments of his opponent….The give and take of debating, the testing of ideas, is essential to democracy. I wish we had a good deal more debating in our institutions than we do now” (Freedom and Union, 7).
– President John F. Kennedy
“I truly believe I would have been as prepared for law school had I simply debated and not attended college at all. I have found that the practice of law – and I assume this is true of a large number jobs – consists basically of trying to solve problems in an organized manner…Debate placed a premium on the factors that I believe are essential to effective problem solving, including—breaking an argument down into its smallest components and then marshaling the factual data…for each element;…talking a problem through with others over a period of time that a contention or issue becomes fully perceivable;…verbally articulating ideas rather than just having a mental conception to appreciate the stresses and rewards of competition” (Matlon and Keel, 197).
– Raoul D. Kennedy, noted San Francisco attorney
“I consider [debate] the most rewarding activity that I engaged in during my school years. Quite frankly, I considered it more important in preparing me for my life as a trial attorney than any of the academic courses that were required in order for me to get both my undergraduate and law degrees” ( Matlon and Keel, p197).
– Gerald Kogan, Circuit Court Judge
“Forensics has influenced my personal and professional development more than any other activity or experience. Those who have participated in forensics often share this view. A survey of Governors, Senators, and other leaders across the country conducted by the Bicentennial Youth Debates found a high level of agreement about this key role of debate and speech activities. Debate teaches so many things – the complexity of issues, the importance of research, techniques of gathering and organizing information, analytic and verbal skills, respect for opposing views, the interaction of evidence and values, and a variety of frameworks for evaluating arguments and reaching decisions. At the heart of this is something crucial to our society – the open testing of ideas (Hunt, 15).”
– James Luck, Executive Director, Batelle Memorial Institute Foundation
“But I will tell you that, right there in the prison, debating, speaking to a crowd, was as exhilarating to me as the discovery of knowledge through reading had been. Standing up there, the aces looking up at me, the things in my head coming out of my mouth, while my brain searched for the next best thing to follow what I was saying, and if I could sway them to my side by handling right, then I had won the debate – once my feet got wet, I was gone on debating. Whichever side of the selected subject was assigned to me, I’d track down and study everything I could find on it. I’d put myself in my opponent’s place and decide how I’d try to win if I had the other side; and then I’d figure a way to knock down those points” (Malcom X, 184).
– Malcom X
There are few other activities in high school or college that are as important as speech and debate. Regardless of an individual’s academic or career goals, the ability to research a complex question, marshal arguments and present them in a persuasive and compelling way, are skills that will serve you well all your life. Both my wife and I debated in high school and college. Before I entered public life, I taught debate and speech at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D. I attribute whatever political success I may have enjoyed, in large part, to the training I received as a participant in debate and speech activities (Hunt, 13).”
– Senator George McGovern, former democratic candidate for President.
“Self expression is truly an art, and its successful development requires steady practice and determination. To articulate one’s thoughts in a lucid and expressive manner – to capture and maintain the interest of an audience, whether it be in the classroom or in the United Nations General Assembly Hall – is strongly supported by the skill and knowledge one acquires from a forensic education (Hunt, p1).”
– Donald F. McHenry, US Representative to the United Nations
“As I look back upon my own experiences, when I try to single out from among the long line of college students some one group which shall stand forth as intellectually the best – best in college work and best in promise of future intellectual achievement – I cannot draw the line around my own favorite students of philosophy, nor the leaders in mathematics, nor those successful in biology; nor could I fairly award the palm to the Phi Beta Kappa men who have excelled in all their subjects. It seems to me that stronger than any other group, tougher in intellectual fiber, keener in intellectual interests, better equipped to battle the coming problems are the college debaters – the students who apart from their regular studies, band together for intellectual controversy with each other and with their friends from other colleges (Hunt, 16).”
– Alexander Meiklejohn, Former President of Amherst College
“The development of leadership in a democratic society has a very direct relationship to the art of debate. One becomes a leader by molding public opinion to support a given course of action, not by dictating such an action. This involves the ability to pinpoint the critical issues of the day, and the willingness to apply oneself to the task of research in order to assemble all considerations bearing upon those issues. It requires the ability to apply logic, rather than emotion and prejudice, to the assembled data, the courage to accept the decisions thus indicated, and the ability to present the opinions thus developed in such ways as to persuade others to a like point of view (Hunt, 13).”
– Senator Edmund Muskie, former Democratic candidate for Vice President and Secretary of State under Jimmy Carter
“One of the most important decisions in my life was when the student body of Warren Central High School in Indianapolis decided I should not be a varsity cheerleader. It meant my weekends were free. For the next three years, I spent most Saturdays on the road with the largest National Forensic League chapter in the country. While the fifteen-year-old girl inside of me still mourns the lost letter sweater, the adult Jane is grateful to NFL for something much more important a – career” (Hunt, 14).
– Jane Pauley, NBC television journalist
“Throughout my public life I have been very grateful for my early experience in formal debates. I believe the encounters are a valuable means of developing in our leaders of the future the ability to express themselves clearly and forcefully on the pressing issues of the times (Huseman and Goodman, 226).”
– Representative Claude Pepper of Florida
“Debate trained me to analyze and articulate the complex national problems that confront our country today. Too, it was a tremendous help in campaign debates for my House and Senate seats…My intercollegiate debate training was the most valuable experience that I had at Penn State. I derived benefits from it far beyond the normal extracurricular activity that it encompassed” (Matlon and Keel, 198).
– Richard S. Schweiker, former Senator and Representative from Pennsylvania and Secretary of Health and Human Services
“No college freshman can project 25 years to decide what he needs to learn – subject matter is easily forgotten and in today’s world, the knowledge explosion makes constant learning an inevitability. But all adults today need to be able to communicate with clarity, to articulate ideas, to reason, to separate key facts from the barrage of ideas we all are exposed to every day. No single activity can prepare one better than debating – the ability to think on one’s feet, to form conclusions rapidly, to answer questions logically and with clarity, to summarize ideas are all processes which forensics activity develop and develop” (Hunt, 14).
– Helen M. Wise, former President, National Education Association
“I used to think one of the most powerful individuals in America was the person who could select the annual high school debate topic. Think of the power to set the agenda, and determine what millions of high school students will study, read about, think about, talk about with friends, discuss with their teachers and debate with their parents and siblings over dinner.”
– Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense
“There is not the slightest doubt that by vicious use of propaganda, preying upon the racial and nationalistic hatreds of the peoples of the world, this universe could very shortly again be transformed into a seething cauldron of infuriated nations.”
– Ralph Bunch while on his College Debate Team. Bunch was a high school debater, college debater and Debate Team President. He became the first African American to gain a PhD in political science from an American university, first African American recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, worked for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II (predecessor to the CIA), Undersecretary General of the United Nations, instrumental in creating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN Chief Mediator of the Arab-Israeli conflict after his predecessor was assassinated, his treaty would be modeled decades later in the truce between the Bloods and Crips in Los Angeles, Peace negotiator in the Congo, Yemen, Kashmir, and Cyprus, Chair of the Political Science Department of Howard University, Civil Rights Movement and March on Washington, and the list goes on and on.
“I realized it [public-speaking] was a skill and a gift,” Robbins told me. “And that the skill and the gift combined could do some beautiful things. I’ve now been practicing it for 39 years.”
– Tony Robbins, Motivational Speaker
“The number one reason people are ineffective speakers is because they’re focused on themselves. If you’re focused on yourself, then you can’t possibly connect with the audience,”
– Tony Robbins, Motivational Speaker. “Remarkably, Tony Robbins—who grew up in an unstable household caring for his alcoholic mother—didn’t recognize his own ability to move people with words until a high school debate teacher, Mr. Cobb, recognized his skill. The teacher told Robbins, “I have never seen anybody who can stand up and speak with no notes, look around to kids who won’t listen, and mesmerize them with just raw communication.” He handed Robbins a speech called “The Will To Win” and made this challenge: If Robbins read the speech and connected to it, he would have to agree to compete in a persuasive oratory competition. If it didn’t move him, Robbins could simply return the speech. Robbins read it and cried his eyes out. He entered the competition and won first place. He won a second speech contest, and a third…”
“Every protest, every dissent whether its an individual academic paper or parking demonstration is unabashedly an attempt to forge an identity in a particular age…”
– Former High School Debater Hillary Clinton, College Graduation Speech
“Clinton’s remarks transformed her, virtually overnight, into a national symbol of student activism. Wire services blasted out her remarks, and Life magazine featured a photo of her, dressed in bold striped bell-bottoms. Clinton soon caught the attention of leading figures of the left, including civil rights activist Vernon Jordan and her future mentor, Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman…”
– Hillary Clinton’s College Graduation Speech. Hillary Clinton was also a former High School Debater.
“On stage or in the movies, I could do whatever I wanted to, I was free.”
– Gene Wilder, High School Debater, Washington High School, Milwaukee
Lamar Alexander, Governor of Tennessee and Republican candidate for President
Samuel Alioto, US Supreme Court Justice
Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary General
Michael Bloomberg, New York City Mayor
Stephen Bryer, US Supreme Court Justice
Tom Brokaw, News Anchor
Jackson Browne, singer and songwriter
Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the University of
California, Irvine School of Law
Marsha Clark, noted prosecutor
Johnny Cochran, noted defense attorney
Bill Clinton, President of the United States
Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State
Jimmy Carter. President of the United States
Harry Connick Jr., Singer and songwriter
Admiral Crowe, Four Star Admiral, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Ambassador to England
Alan Dershowitz, noted attorney and Harvard law professor
Mark Fabiani, Special Counsel to the White House
Thomas Foley, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Bob Graham, Governor of Florida and U.S. Senate
John Graham, Director, Institute for Policy Studies at Harvard
Phil Gramm, U.S. Senator and Republican Candidate for President
Dr. Henry Heimlich, inventor of the Heimlich manuever
Arianna Huffington, conservative TV commentator
Lee Iacocca, CEO Chrysler
Lady Bird Johnson, former First Lady of the United States
Lyndon Johnson, President of the United States
Barbara Jordan, U.S. House of Representatives
Ed Koch, New York City Mayor
John F. Kennedy, President of the United States
Gerald Kogan, Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court
Allan Lichtman, political commentator and analyst
Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights Leader
Richard Lugar, U.S. Senate and Republican candidate for President
John Major, Prime Minister of Great Britian
Nelson Mandela, First Black President of South
Africa, Civil Rights Leader, Nobel Peace Prize Winner
Michael Mazarr, Analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Editor of the Washington Quarterly
George McGovern, U.S. Senate and Democratic Presidential Candidate
Zell Miller, Governor of Georgia
Richard Morris, Current Political Advisor to
Edmund Muskie, U.S. Senate, Candidate for Vice President and Secretary of State
Richard Nixon, President of the United States
Jane Pauley, news anchor
Brad Pitt, Holywood Actor
Michael Punke, Director of the Center for
Ann Richards, Governor of Texas
Tom Ridge, Pennsylvania Governor and Director of the Department of Homeland Security
Susan Rook, News Anchor for CNN
Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States
Franklin Roosevelt, President of the United States
Karl Rove, Deputy Chief of Staff and Republican Party political consultant
Robert Rubin, Secretary of the Treasury
Antonin Scalia, Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
John Sexton, President of New York University
Ted Sorenson, Presidential speechwriter
Michael Stipe, lead singer of REM
Nadine Stroessen, President of the American Civil Liberties Union
Sonya Sotomayor, Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
Larry Summers, Economic Advisor to the World
Bank, President Obama and President Clinton
G. Maxwell Taylor, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Margaret Thatcher, First Female Prime Minister of England
Ted Turner, Founder and Owner of CNN
Laurence Tribe, Preeminent Constitutional Law Scholar
John Wayne, Actor
James Q. Wilson, Political Scientist and Government Scholar
Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States
Oprah Winfrey, Talk Show Host
Albert Wynn, U.S. House of Representatives
Malcolm X, Civil Rights Leader
Gene Wilder, Actor, Comedian, Director