Boston Debate League

BDL in the Post-Season

June 1, 2022 | By Roger Nix

Highlights from national tournaments and the End-of-Year Awards ceremonies

Although our local tournaments ended in March, April and May were still busy months for the Boston Debate League!

The Urban Debate National Championship took place on April 8-10 as a virtual tournament for the 22 urban debate leagues across the country. Two BDL teams participated, our highest finishing Junior Varsity teams from the City Championship in March. Ana Luna Maldonado and Evelyn Flores, juniors from Somerville HS, held their own by winning three of their six debates; Ana Luna also earned the award for 8th overall speaker. Two ninth graders from Josiah Quincy Upper School, Kevin Tan and Christina Yang, also performed well, winning two of their six debates. Though the tournament was virtual, BDL debaters set up their “war room” in our office for the weekend so they could spend time with each other, prep together, and of course eat some good food!

Later in the month, BDL middle school students participated in the fourth annual Urban Debate League (UDL) Middle School Nationals. Founded by BDL, Washington DC UDL, DEBATE Kansas City, Tulsa UDL, and NYCUDL in 2019, this tournament provides one of the most diverse, rigorous, and competitively fair debate experiences for middle school students in the country. As a co-founder and co-directing league, BDL works to ensure that our expertise and resources are helping provide a high-quality experience not just for our local debaters, but also for debaters in up to nine other leagues around the country – and next year we are hoping for more leagues to join!

Middle School Nationals took place on April 30 and May 1, and BDL had five of our top middle school teams from City Championships participate. Many of them again flocked to the BDL office with their coaches and support from BDL staff for a community-building national tournament experience. Among the highlights from this tournament were four BDL students earning Top 10 speaker awards against 40 of the best debaters in other cities. Those speakers were Yurie Lee (top overall speaker) and Maritza Castano (fourth) from Brooke, and Ava Levine-Fried (seventh) and Alana Laforest (tenth) from Boston Latin Academy. Other highlights included quarter-final appearances by the team from BLA and the team of Sarah Foley and Anneliese Yu from Eliot K8.

In between the two national tournaments were some of the most anticipated nights of the BDL year, the End-of-Year Awards ceremonies for middle and high school. After a two-year hiatus, we were back in person at Roxbury Community College’s Media Arts Center. The nights each celebrated some great accomplishments from this past year as well as the careers of graduating seniors and eighth graders. Senior speakers Claudia Santos Cardoso (Boston International) and David Rivera (Everett HS) both delivered passionate takes on the value of debate, and will each be heading off to college next year with a $1,000 BDL scholarship. The high school ceremony also included a bittersweet send off to a number of BDL’s most dedicated students from the last six years, including five students who had debated in more than twenty five BDL tournaments: Josie Colon (McCormack, New Mission, 34 tournaments); Walter Wexler (Hurley, BLA, 31 tournaments); Ariella Taylor (O’Bryant, 28 tournaments); Stacy Tran (McCormack, Dearborn, 27 tournaments); and Sadie Keesbury (Hurley, BLA, 25 tournaments). We wish the best to our seniors in their post-BDL journeys!

Next up, the After-School Debate staff is finalizing hiring of summer interns who will help us prepare for Coach Camp and Debate Camp in August. Stay tuned for more on that later!

Brooke Charter School students Yurie Lee (top overall speaker) and Maritza Castano (fourth) at the BDL office for MS Nationals.