Giving Thanks: Recognizing some WUDL Volunteers who made this last semester great!

The holiday season often inspires folks to give back to their communities and appreciate the year gone past. Here at WUDL, we wanted to give thanks and recognize some truly awesome folks who helped make the last semester here a positive learning experience for so many students around the region. Incredibly, all three of these outstanding people were new to the WUDL this semester.

Darrian Carroll: 142 Hours

Darrian is a PHD candidate at the University of Maryland. A former debater for the University of North Texas, Darrian spent the last two years working on his Master's Degree and coaching UNLV to elimination rounds of College Debate Nationals.

While at UNT, Darrian spent a summer working at the Matthew Ornstein Summer Debate Institute, and got to know a bit about the Washington Urban Debate League. Since returning to the D.C. area, he now serves as the Assistant Debate Coach at Charles Flowers High School in Prince George's County. Darrian has been a key player helping re-build the program, helping the team expand and setting them on a winning trajectory. Under his guidance, the school has brought home consecutive 1st place finishes in the Novice Division, and most recently won 2nd Place in the JV Division as well.

Darrian, pictures with several members of the Washington Latin Debate Team on our trip to the NYC Fall FaceOff

Beyond his work at Flowers, Darrian has been a boon for students across the league. He has judged at every tournament this semester and served as a coach for the WUDL Travel Team. He joined the squad at Georgetown Day School and accompanied the team up to the New York Fall Face-Off, sharing his wisdom and providing guidance along the way. Beyond his impressive resume and dedication, his approachable nature and willingness to jump in and help out have made him an invaluable new addition to the WUDL family.

David Leo: 118 hours

David Leo is a former high school debater from Denver, where he gained some local accolades, but wasn't a big national circuit competitor. In my opinion, David was a debater for all of the right reasons--appreciating the intellectual challenge of a debate round and the intellectual community it builds. Now a freshman at George Washington University, David reached out to the WUDL and wanted to find a way to stay involved in the debate community in his new home.

I met David on the steps of Eastern High School, a new program that we started this fall. He had taken the Metro for the first time to get to the school, and had arrived extremely early because he didn't quite know his way around town yet. Fast forward 5 months and David has become a big reason why Eastern High School is one of our strongest new programs anywhere in the WUDL. He's a quick learner and has adapted quickly to instruct in ways that are meaningful to his team, and has earned rave reviews from his teacher co-coaches. One said "Our debaters just love him and he is so knowledgeable.... The students are so pumped. I cant get over his maturity for a young college person."

Beyond Eastern, David has helped students across the league, from new debaters at emerging programs figure out what they are getting into (Ballou High School) and work with the WUDL's most experienced debaters on the Travel Team. He was a critical asset at the Georgetown Day tournament, getting into the weeds with students to help them prepare for rounds, and has stepped in to help when WUDL staff has had scheduling conflicts.

I chose David to write an update to our curriculum to reflect the post-election landscape. He did so well that his update was picked up by the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues (NAUDL) and is being used by thousands of students and coaches nation-wide.

Jeff Hallock: 112 hours

Every season, the WUDL creates a sample evidence set for students to start with, quoting various experts about the coming year's topic and demonstrating how to construct and argument and how to build entire cases. This season's topic is immigration reform, and Jeff's academic work was included in our sample evidence set, author unknown. A few weeks later, Jeff reached out looking to volunteer, but his name didn't jump out to me. He started volunteering before the season even started at the Matthew Ornstein Summer Debate Institute, judging practice debates. After one of the rounds, Jeff approached me and asked if he could see a copy of this starter pack of evidence, and was amused to see his work on the first page.

Jeff comes to the WUDL from a prestigious academic background, focusing on migration policy. He is a great resource for our students looking for expertise on this year's topic, especially in this era of Fake News.

Since the summer institute, Jeff has become the Assistant Debate Coach at Washington Latin, judging every tournament. His assistance has allowed one of our largest programs to continue to grow and prosper. Together with Coach Lee-Bey, they have been able to offer differentiated instruction for a large and growing team, ranging from 5th graders to high schoolers. Under his guidance, Latin's JV debaters went undefeated in the first two tournaments and earning a one way trip to the Varsity Division and a trip to New York.

Beyond his expertise and his coaching, Jeff has also become the resident WUDL photographer, capturing many candid moments and awards ceremonies with infinitely more skill than my cell phone shots of previous years. This is an under-appreciated contribution, as great photos help us tell the story of the great work that we are doing to volunteers and donors and help the WUDL sustain its success and grow.

Volunteers like these are the biggest reason why the WUDL has been able to grow so quickly and serve so many schools and students so quickly as a young non-profit. These are the true All Stars that make our work possible, and who are making a huge difference in the lives and intellectual development of local students. Thank You!

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