July 29, 2020 | By Sara Gill
In the 2019-2020 debate season, Boston Globe video journalist Shelby Lum followed the Brighton High School Debate en Español team. In this mini-documentary, we hear from Coach Ramon Trinidad and students on the Brighton debate team, and see their work at practices and tournaments. We see the tenacity of debaters, the unparalleled support of the team and coach, and the heartbreak when the COVID-19 pandemic cut their season short and forced the championship round online.
Although 29% of all students enrolled in Boston Public Schools are English Language Learners, there are few academically rigorous activities available for this population. Debate en Español strives to offer intellectual rigor and competition to Spanish-speaking students, providing an opportunity for Spanish-speaking students to express their opinions and intellect while they are still learning English – and to see their growing bilingualism as an asset rather than a deficit. The BDL is the first urban debate league to run a fully-equivalent Spanish division, and we have supported other leagues in building out Spanish programming.
As one student shares, “I belonged there. I wasn’t the only one [for whom] English was a second language.”
“Debate says, OK, you have a voice? You have something to say? You want to impress? Then here it is. Here’s the mike. Go impress.”
– Ramon Trinidad, Brighton Debate Team Coach