Washington Urban Debate Season Opener a Success Story Amid Pandemic

"I was skeptical about judging virtual debate, but I really enjoyed myself. I felt since the kids rose to and exceeded expectations....I am really looking forward to the next tournament."

Jess, WUDL Volunteer

This past weekend, the Washington Urban Debate League (WUDL) kicked off the local tournament season, online. The first tournament of the year is usually hectic, with students, coaches, and judges trying to navigate their first competition. Thanks to the Yaatly platform, this first tournament confusion was significantly less. Students, coaches, and volunteer judges could instead focus on having some great conversations about this year's topic, Criminal Justice Reform.

Many rounds focused on very tangible issues that students see in their schools, such as the presence of School Resource Officers and other law enforcement in educational spaces, or issues that dominate the headlines, such as police brutality, body cameras, and the militarization of the police, while other rounds discussed the intersections of environmentalism and law enforcement, abolition, and many other complex issues.

This tournament saw 26 schools participate, including the debut of 6 new debate programs. All of these new teams won awards!

Academy of Health Sciences High School

Individual and Team Awards in Varsity

Basis DC Education Campus

Individual and Team Awards in Novice and Rookie

Capital Village Middle School

Individual and Speaker Awards in Rookie

Creative Minds Middle School

Individual and Speaker Awards in Novice

Oyster Adams Middle School

Individual and Speaker Awards in Novice

Statesman College Prep

Individual and Speaker Awards in Rookie

"The students were very excited to participate and are energized to continue"

-- Marley Dawson, Statesman Prep Coach

As with all of our Fall competitions, this tournament was designed to help new debaters. A major shout out to volunteers Katie Proch, Danielle Dupree, Joe Karam, Ohm Gore, and Omar Price for leading workshops for our Novice and Rookie debaters. The results above speak for themselves!

Several other schools stood out and had great starts to the year.

Stuart Hobson had themselves quite a competition. 8th graders Dinkins/Cole and Primus/Jamison made their debut in the Junior Varsity Division, and went undefeated, taking 1st and 2nd place in the tournament, respectively. They won the top two speaker awards as well. Hobson also won awards in the Novice Division.

Banneker also had a strong performance, as their teams of Zhang/Cozart, Cardona/Isaac, and Ross/Harris took 2nd, 3rd, and 4th overall in the Novice Division. They are ready to head to JV, as Banneker begins to re-asset itself as one of our strongest programs.

Freshman Ayotunde Ejiko debated in the Novice Division in Middle School last year, but jumped up to the JV Division now that he attends Phelps High School. Working with a new partner and in a new division, they brought home a trophy to Phelps in the first tournament of the year.

We're really excited to see the return and growth of so many programs. Next tournament will be on Halloween, and yes, we are sponsoring a costume contest!

Good luck to all of our teams attending the Bronx Invitational this weekend, we'll see you all on Oct. 31st.

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