Saturday, Dec. 14 marked the first debate tournament of the year for the Connecticut Middleschool Debate League, in which 22 middle schools in Connecticut fielded teams. Middlebrook School had a very strong showing with 60 students taking part, in teams of three. The question, or proposition is announced in advance of the tournament, giving each student up to four weeks to prepare.

The proposition for the December debate was, ‘This House regrets the worldwide proliferation of surveillance cameras.’ Each team debates the proposition three times–once taking the proposition side, once taking the opposition side, and finally taking a side decided by coin toss.

Each student receives a score for personal performance; the team score is calculated by averaging out each team member’s score. Middlebrook had five of the 10 best individual performances, with seventh grader Francesca Gusfa finishing a very impressive second overall. Middlebrook also placed four of the top 10 teams in the debate, with a team of three eighth graders finishing first overall.

Katie Durkin and Michael Panoli are Debate Club advisors at Middlebrook, positions they have held since the inception of the club about five years ago. Debate club has always existed as a Wilton High School club, but didn’t exist as a club at Middlebrook until Michael Wallace, a WHS student at the time, approached Middlebrook teachers to suggest setting up the club at Middlebrook too. The idea made a lot of sense–getting the students used to debating at middle school would mean a more experienced cohort of students for the debate team at WHS.

There are four debate tournaments during the year. The next one will be held at Middlebrook on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. Middlebrook’s teams are hoping that the home advantage will net them another victory.

Students curious about debate are welcome to attend the next tournament as spectators. Debate club runs throughout the year on Tuesdays after school. The Middlebrook Debate Club introduces all middle school students to debate and public speaking. Debate club meetings address creating feasible arguments, speaking fluidly, and understanding fundamental civics. Games, lectures, and mock debates, during the weekly practices further bolsters students’ comprehension of current events and parliamentary procedures.