Press release from Rumson Country Day School

Imagine a place where middle school students are encouraged to argue. On Saturday, March 1, Rumson Country Day School students were among 32 teams that participated in the Garden State Debate Tournament, held at Clifton T. Barkalow School in Freehold.

All public charter, independent and parochial middle schools are invited to participate. The following schools participated in the tournament: Clifton T. Barkalow Middle School (Freehold); Joseph R. Bolger Middle School (Keansburg); The Hun School (Princeton); Mother Teresa Regional School (Atlantic Highlands); Our Lady of Sorrows (Hamilton); Red Bank Charter School (Red Bank); Stone Bridge Middle School (Allentown) and The Wilberforce School (Princeton).

Competing for trophies in the categories of Best Speaker, Top Team and Best Overall School, RCDS came in second overall for percentages of wins. The students learned to debate on opposing sides of four issues, and posed well-researched arguments in the following topics: “Ukraine should join the European Union;” “Delay Obamacare;” and “Immunizations should not be mandated.”

“We included Debate in sixth grade Language Arts classes for the first time last year, and we began competing this year,” commented Ann Murdock, Upper School English teacher and Debate Advisor. “For them to win second place at their second tournament is testament to what dedicated, capable students they are.”

Congratulations to the following RCDS students for their impressive second place finish: Abigail Devine ’15, Hannah Reynolds ’15, Sally Thomas ’15, Elias Economou ’15, Taylor Harrison ’15, Maggie Whittemore ’15, Patrick Devine ’15, Joey Hoffman ’14, Tommy Tsimbinos ’15, Maddie Mitsch ’15, Ana Piacentini ’15, and Madeleine Reinhard ’15. Hannah Reynolds was the team’s high scorer.

Now in its third year, the Garden State Debate League promotes sophisticated public speaking, critical thinking, research, argumentation, and refutation skills by working in classes, clubs, and interschool competitions. The Garden State Debate League is part of a national network of debate programs established 11 years ago by Claremont McKenna College to integrate public speaking and debate into the middle school curriculum.

Upper School Head Bill Lamb praised the students for their outstanding success: “Debate combines several skills we value at RCDS. First, extemporaneous speaking remains an essential tool for any individual engaged in public leadership.”

“Second, the synthesizing and selecting of information to make a case reinforces the kinds of thinking we value in all areas of academic and professional life,” Lamb continued. “Finally, debate requires students to think on the fly – they have to anticipate opponent’s arguments and deal with unexpected intellectual obstacles.”

“Public speaking, rigorous thinking, and intellectual flexibility are lofty goals for all learners.”