Parli concludes season with powerful finish

Kate Feiner, Staff Writer

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Three students from the school’s Parliamentary Debate Team earned spots within the top five speakers at a tournament at The Dalton School last Saturday, marking the end of a successful competitive season.

Amman Kejela (11) reached the final round and Nathan Zelizer (9) placed fourth in the tournament’s novice bracket. Four teams from the school attended the tournament, as well as various judges, Irati Egorho Diez (11), who advanced to the semi-finals and placed as the second speaker, said.

During the tournament, there were four preliminary rounds, after which, debaters could qualify for the elimination rounds, Egorho Diez said.

William Golub (12), co-president of the team and the executive director of the student-run New York Parliamentary Debate League, was one of the main organizers of the tournament. He worked to manage all of the attending teams, he said.

In a typical round, students are given three motions around which the debate may focus fifteen minutes prior to its start. They are then allowed to research these for a brief period of time, Golub said. 

Zelizer feels that receiving topics a mere fifteen minutes before each round “emphasizes the ability to think fast and also brings a lot of attention to rhetoric over research,” he said.

During the year, the team meets each week to work on their skills, receiving mock resolutions and competing in practice rounds, Egorho Diez said.  This practice is important when learning how to quickly prepare arguments, she said.

In addition, the school teaches students how to judge, as they are required to bring judges to the tournament if they want to bring their whole team, faculty advisor Melissa Kazan said.  Students from the team can also volunteer to judge at tournaments as a favor, she said.

Isabel Mignone (11), who judged at the tournament, follows each of the team’s argument through a process called flowing and also judges each speaker based on his or her eloquence, she said.  “Because I also debate, I am able to think of a good progression for the round and better understand the strength of speakers,” she said.