Volunteers are the backbone of the WUDL, and I never believe that we do enough to acknowledge the hard work and dedicate their put into this community and these students.
Everyone likes to quantify things in terms of numbers, so here are a few:
This year, more than 150 volunteers have contributed more than 2,000 hours at WUDL events, serving as judges, coaches, mentors, and tournament staff for students across the District and Prince George's County.
One of the most enthusiastic and dedicated of those volunteers, responsible for a lot of those hours is Anne Peckham, volunteer extraordinaire. Anne contributed more than 150 hours since Fall 2016. Over the last 15 months, Anne averaged about 14 hours a month, or 3.5 a week volunteering with the WUDL. A strictly numerical count, however, barely scratches the surface and hardly tells you how invaluable Anne has been to the WUDL and how much we will miss her.
Anne debated for Lexington High School (Massachusetts), one of the nation's top debate programs, and was the Assistant Director for the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution when we first met. Anne was interested in helping out as a judge, and perhaps as a coach if it fit her schedule, bringing her experience as a former debater and a policy professional to help a local team.
As luck would have it, Oyster Adams Middle School was just up the road. Anne arranged her schedule so that she could visit Oyster Adams at least once a week, if not twice, during her lunch break. Oyster Adams, under her coaching, went from a new program that hadn't really gotten their feet under them completely to a league powerhouse in a single season, culminating with 8th graders under her instruction, Manegio and Rutherford, winning the WUDL District Finals in 2017.
Anne was an effective teacher, and coach, helping not just the top team succeed, but every student on the team. Oyster routinely had trophy winners in every division, despite being a middle school competing against older competition. Beyond her work with the students, she helped empower and train the teacher-coach she was partnered with, Anna Sebastian.
This is the core of the WUDL model, providing training, assistance, and differentiated instruction along side a teacher, not just doing the lessons for them. Anne and Anna were an excellent pair, and should be an example to all of our volunteers for how best to leave a mark on a debate team.
Anne was unfailingly kind and cheerful, always ready to help out with whatever needed doing. Beyond her contributions as a coach and judge, Anne was a founding member (and often the host) of the WUDL Advisory Board. Her insights as a coach, in touch with students and teachers, were always on point, and she was partially responsible for the novice workshops we conducted at the Capital City tournament to kick off this competitive season, and a fair amount of fundraising from her colleagues at the Advisory Board's Season Kick Off Event.
Anne came through and made a huge difference for the WUDL when it came to the 2017 Ornstein Summer Debate Institute. When our original host had to back out due to repairs, Anne stepped up and was able to convince her employer, the Brookings Institution, one of the most respected think tanks in the world, to host our summer institute at a price we could manage. Beyond world class facilities, she recruited a slate of scholars to come speak, and made sure the 101 logistical challenges that always pop up were never serious.
Anne is a true rock star, and we wish her the best of luck in her next adventures fighting extremism online for Youtube. (And yes, she's staying in the community with the Bay Area Urban Debate League). On behalf of the league, thank you for investing so much of your time and talents into our students.