The 13th annual Chicago Debate Championship was held March 26-27 at DePaul University’s Loop Campus and was generously sponsored by Allstate. 264 debaters competed in varsity and junior varsity divisions to be declared the city champions of Chicago.
After five preliminary rounds and four elimination rounds, the varsity team of Kevin Hirn and Misael Gonzalez from Whitney Young High School was named the top debate team in Chicago, defeating second-place finisher Payton College Prep’s team of Halle Apy and Ola Topscewska on a 3-0 decision.
Jeff Scheur, coach of the city champions and English teacher at Whitney Young, said: “I’m so proud of our kids. They’ve worked with tremendous rigor and passion all year, and winning the Chicago Debate Championship is a great honor. The Urban Debate League in Chicago works very hard to keep debate in this city thriving and we appreciate all the work that goes into organizing these events.”
In the junior varsity division, Adira Levine and Tess Given from Northside High School defeated the Lane Tech H.S. team of Erik Dohner and Owen Jones. The top individual speakers were Halle Apy from Payton in Varsity and Christine Davis from Lindblom Math and Science Academy in the Junior Varsity.
A Lindblom debater, Breona Galvin, also won the third speaker award in the JV Division. John Silva, Head Coach of Lindblom, commented: “I am exceptionally proud of Christine and Breona taking 2 of the 3 top speaker awards at this tournament, but I am even more proud of their, and the rest of the Lindblom’s debaters’ professionalism throughout the tournament and this season. I am a very fortunate coach to work with such excellent students.”
The Northwestern University Debate Society supplied many of the judges in the elimination rounds and they remarked at how competitively advanced the teams from the CDL have become. The Chicago Debate Championship over the course of its thirteen-year history has become a rather fierce intellectual battleground, rivaling some of the best of those in the well-resourced “traditional” circuit.
Adding a unique feature to this year’s city championship, the Chicago Debate Commission and the Chicago Public Schools hosted a reception during the octa-final round for supporters of the CDL. Chicago Board of Education President, Mary Richardson-Lowry spoke, as did Deputy CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Barbara Lumpkin. CDC Board Chair Richard Sullivan and Board member Lenny Gail thanked the corporate sector and legal community for their crucial involvement. Allstate Senior Vice President and General Counsel Michele Coleman Mayes described some of the reasons for Allstate’s strong and growing involvement with the DCL, focusing on the students’ experience.