Debate Team Celebrates Phenomenal 2024 Season

2 mins read

M-A’s parliamentary debate team, led by head coach Brier Buchalter, finished as the fifth school in the nation this past season. The successful year can be attributed to the continuously growing team, the students’ unwavering commitment, and a supportive team environment. Junior Matilda Kratz said, “The most rewarding part of the season was making new friends through debate and seeing everyone improve and have fun together.”

In the parliamentary format, teams of two are given a topic and then have twenty minutes to prepare a case arguing for either the “government” or “opposition” sides. Topics have a broad range, from discussion of housing policy and investment in nuclear energy to banning homework and philosophical considerations.

Gingerbread team bonding.

The team holds practices after school for two days a week, but often organizes practice rounds outside of school before large tournaments.

 Sophomore Shawnak Shivakumar said, “We constantly communicate outside of debate, helping each other improve our skills by sharing tips, doing practice rounds, and just enjoying each other’s company.”

Sophomore Kai Kawaguchi shared, “I think the team naturally grew a lot closer this year because of the sheer amount of time we worked together.”

A definitive highlight of the season was the National Parliamentary Debate League’s Tournament of Champions (TOC), which required qualification through performance-based points accumulated throughout the season. This year, five M-A teams qualified for the first in-person TOC since 2019, and they traveled to New York City for the tournament at the beginning of April. Last year, only one team qualified. Kratz said, “My favorite achievement was getting to travel to New York with five teams. It was fun walking around Central Park, touring the Met, and rating different pizza places.”

The team also had a number of notable tournament wins from duos. Junior Varsha Sripadham and sophomore Becca Koenig* seeded first place at the Coast Forensics League Super Debate 2 in January, where they swept the competition. Additionally, Sripadham and Kratz won the UC Berkeley California Invitational tournament in February. The debate team’s dominant duo, junior Allegra Hoddie* and Shivakumar, won the New York Parliamentary Debate League (NYPDL) April Online Invitational tournament, and they competed in the 2024 NYPDL Championships in May to take first place overall. 

The team during the TOC in New York

Shivakumar explained, “Winning the end-of-the-year New York league debate championships with Allegra was incredible. Similar to the TOC, you need to accumulate points to qualify, and winning the entire tournament was definitely our craziest achievement.”

Reflecting on such a successful season, freshman Balthazar Sauquet shared, “I think the most rewarding part of the season this year was making sophomore and junior friends and being able to fly to New York. This year was very special due to the fact the team almost only had juniors and sophomores.”

After a fantastic season, the debate team is looking forward to another great year. Kratz said, “I look forward to planning more team events, teaching new people, and having a lot more inside jokes.”

Kawaguchi added, “I’m looking forward to welcoming new members to the team and hopefully helping them learn debate. I also look forward to competing in more tournaments and continuing to grow.”

*Becca Koenig and Allegra Hoddie are journalists for the M-A Chronicle.

Tessa is a junior in her second year of journalism. She enjoys co-writing for the Bears Doing Big Things column and the social trends happening at M-A. Tessa also enjoys playing tennis and is on the varsity team.

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