UD team imparts wisdom to prospective debaters

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UD team imparts wisdom to prospective debaters

Jake Shapiro

Jake Shapiro

Jake Shapiro

Lauren Conner and Patrick Stinebaugh

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The Middle Division Debate club is well under way in preparing aspiring young debaters who will potentially join the Upper Division team.

The club, which is run by the UD Debate team, aims to help kids develop the right habits and make sure that they understand how the activity works, Nader Granmayeh (12), a member of the UD team, said. The goal of the club is for the students to obtain a basic framework that they can use once they advance onto the UD team and start competing in tournaments, he said.

Every Monday from 4pm to 6pm, the students meet with eight associate directors, who are students from the UD Debate team who volunteer to help teach the MD club. Generally, the middle schoolers will be divided up into rooms either by skill or age.

The club is formatted so that as students get older, they acquire new skills. MD students are assigned mentors to work on case writing throughout their time in the MD club, UD member Thomas Grant (9) said.

While the club practices engaging in actual debates, the purpose of it is to help students learn the skills necessary to take part in a tournament, which they practice through drills and in-house debates.

“We also teach the MD students about current events and how to research a topic,” Shay Soodak (11) another member of the UD team, said.

Arnav Patwardhan (8) enjoys debate, and believes the club is an excellent opportunity to practice his skills, he said. “The club definitely assisted my public speaking, and I think I’ve become a better debater,” he said.

“I think it’s made me a little bit more comfortable speaking,” Milo Mandelli-Valla (7) said.  “When I came in sixth grade I was a little bit more shy, and now I feel a little bit more comfortable to talk up when I should.”

By joining the club, students are more likely to join the UD team, Granmayeh said. He had participated in the MD club before joining the UD team, and felt that joining the club in the MD prepared him for the UD team by allowing him to feel more comfortable in the environment, activity, and atmosphere, he said.

“I’m personally excited that I’m going to debates outside of New York with the debate team,” Mandelli-Valla said. “That’s obviously happening in high school, but I’m hoping to stay in debate until then,” Mandelli-Valla said.

The UD team utilizes both real and silly debate topics to keep the kids interested, Granmayeh said. “Although the students do become disinterested sometimes, they are very competitive and want to argue,” Soodak said.

While the club is not focused on tournaments, they do have some opportunities to participate in them. For instance, they participated in one early on in the school year and might partake in one this February. Additionally, the school will host an Urban Debate League Tournament during the spring.

“The challenge with the MD team is that there probably could be some more tournaments, but it’s mostly a well-run program,” Grant said.

“Debate is a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun, so it’s worth it,” Patwardhan said.