Fourth Annual Chicago Middle School Debate Championship Highlights M.S. League Progress

The Fourth Annual Chicago Middle School Debate League Championship was held on March 12, 2011 at Lindblom Math and Science Academy, featuring teams from all fourteen middle schools in the CMSDL. Students competed for the title of city champion in three divisions, Novice, JV, and Varsity. In the 2010-11 academic year, the middle school league grew by 12% and added five new schools.

Also noteworthy, this was Mandee Polonsky’s last Chicago Middle School Debate Championship. Mandee was the CPS administrator who in the spring of 2006 conceived of expanding debate into the middle school grades. Mandee brought together the Chicago Debate League and one of the CPS middle school programs she managed, After School All Stars. Mandee has moved to a new position, Director of Education, for an education non-profit, Right at School. We are thankful for her service and will miss her vision and leadership very much.

Tournament Results

In the Novice Division, Lincoln Park AT (Annie Scnoll and Teresa Haberstroh) defeated Locke DP (Daevon Reynolds and Phillip Brooks) on a 3-0 decision.

In the JV Division, Zapata CeMi (Cecilia Estrada and Michelle Garcia) defeated Spencer MP (Miracle Chew and Perriyana Clay) on a 2-1 decision.

In the Varsity Division, Ogden RS (Renee Jacoby and Sammy Cousino) defeated Alcott JM (Joselyn Campoverde and Mahnoor Syed) on a 2-1 decision.

The top speaker at the tournament was Renee Jacoby from Ogden, with second and third place speaker awards going to Amela Kalezic (Alcott) and Rachel Carey (Lincoln Park).

In addition to traditional tournament awards, the Chicago Middle School Debate League also recognized a few individuals for their year-long accomplishments.

• Eric Shank, coach at Ariel Middle School, was the recipient of the 2011 Golden Gavel Award, given to the League’s best coach.

• Forrest Sumlar, assistant coach at Morgan Park Academy, was presented the 2011 Support School Coach of the Year award.

Several students were given year-long awards as well:

• Lucretia Woods, of Spencer Middle School, was presented the 6th Grader of the Year Award

• Dominique Easterling, of Kershaw Middle School, was presented the 7th Grader of the Year Award

• Isaiah Hodges, of Shoop Academy Middle School, was presented the 8th Grader of the Year Award

Comments from Coaches

When asked about his and his students’ experiences at this season’s culminating event, Eric Shank, coach at Ariel Middle School responded, “By the time we arrived at the city championships, I was so impressed by our students’ ability to work in teams. Each partnership had formed into such a cohesive unit that by the time one debater realized they needed a page from the Core Files, their partner had already pulled it. I’m proud of how our team performed, and my kids and I are already excited for next season.”

Judith Shelton, Curriculum Director at Ariel Community Academy, commented about the event: “Debate has been a phenomenal experience for our students, and to see how much they’re engaged here [at the Chicago Middle School Debate Championship] is fantastic. The students and [coach] Eric Shank have put in a lot of work over the year and it shows.”