Parliamentary debate team competes in year’s first tournament


Rachel Baez, Staff Writer

This past weekend, the Parliamentary Debate (Parli) team attended the virtual New York Parliamentary Debate League (NYPDL) November Invitational. Though the team consisted largely of new debaters, it performed well, Co-President Nathan Zelizer (12) said. 

The team prepared for their first tournament by running through mock debates and exercises, such as building cases and argumentative speaking, Co-President Justin Gurvitch (12) said. “Seeing as this tournament was many students’ first time debating in the Parliamentary style, our main goal was to teach them how to express their arguments confidently and coherently,” he said.

Elise Kang (10) and Naomi Yaeger (10), who were partners in the tournament, placed second and fifth respectively in the speaker awards. This award is based on a debater’s persuasiveness and execution. 

Gurvitch was impressed by Kang and Yaeger’s performance because they participated against over a hundred students nationwide in the varsity division, he said. 

Although the pair  did not win one of their rounds, they were still happy because they thought that it was a respectable loss, Kang said. The team debated “wWhy one shouldn’t ‘Just Do It,’” arguing that “Just Do It” promotes impulsivity.

Another highlight for Kang and Yaeger was debating a round on censorship in Soviet Russia, Yaeger said. The team argued whether or not a woman should showcase her protest art at the risk of being put in a Gulag or Soviet prison camp. Yaeger enjoyed this topic because it was interesting to think about something that did not have an obvious answer, shesaid.

Story Sossen (9) also had a positive experience at her first tournament, she said. Sossen participated in two rounds; she lost the first and won the second. Sheimproved over the two rounds, allowing her to win against a more experienced team, she said.

Sossen attributed her win to her extensive preparation, she said. For example, she bombarded the other team with questions, which stopped their train of thought, she said. “Practice is really important, even if you are just sitting there watching people debate. Improvement comes from experience.”

Gurvitch is happy with how the first tournament went and looks forward to more debates in the future, he said. He is particularly proud that the students took the initiative to join Parli and are already improving.

Zelizer is also proud of the team’s development, he said. “They all left the tournament much better debaters than they entered, which was ultimately the goal.”