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The Great Debate!

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The C&C Admissions Team sends out a weekly message to newly admitted families. These may be updates from the school, communications from the Principal, or glimpses of the school offered by community members.This week, Nick Smart, our Associate Director of Admissions, gave families a look at the C&C Debate Team.
Happy Friday, New Families!

You’ve heard us mention City and Country Debate a few times before. There are a couple reasons for that:

  1. Debaters, who can join the class and team once they reach the Xs, rely upon the academic skills of research, organization, public speaking, and critical thinking. And they deploy those skills, if they choose to, under the pressure of competition.
  2. Debaters, as part of three-person teams and the whole squad, are responsible to each other for their preparation, strategy, positive attitudes, and, we kid you not, fun:

We have just wrapped up the long debate season that began in October and ended on May 20th with the Connecticut Middle School Debate Championships. We went to that tournament, on Zoom, because the debate leagues in Connecticut and New York (of which Nick Smart is president) allow each other to compete across leagues and qualify for their respective championships. 

Well, not only did our team of XIIs qualify for the Connecticut Championship, they won it. Here they are after receiving their final-round decision, with Nick and XIIs group teacher Sarah Whittier, who founded the C&C Debate Program.

The XIIs’ topic that weekend was whether or not the International Criminal Court should make Ecocide a crime against humanity. This motion was won by teams supporting it 50.5 percent of the time. That middle schoolers who are so focused on environmental justice could understand the issue well enough to win 49.5 percent of their rounds on the opposition is evidence of debate’s emphasis on broad, careful examination of issues. Other topics this year included the value of pandemic lockdowns, the merit of private school, and the condition of American democracy. 

With this range of ideas in play, it is not surprising that more of us than the XIIs had great seasons. Being together in our weekly debate classes and going to tournaments once a month gave us all a strong sense of where we’re going and where we’ve been. At the New York Championships seven of our fifth graders took home trophies for top ten finishes in novice team and individual categories. Sarah and Nick know they have a strong, developing program on their hands with those kids on the crew for three more years.

And when we look back to November, we recall with pride that our eighth-graders won the first tournament of the season. An enterprising teammate, sensing the XIIIs victory was at hand, captured the moment that decision was announced:

Those kids are leaving us in a few weeks, for well-deserved summer fun, and for Packer and Trinity, high schools that took note of their debate experience at admissions time. We will miss them, and when we get back to work in the fall, we will honor their example.

Like the gym, the wood shop, the music room, the art studio, and many other places at C&C, the debate room gathers students and teachers in camaraderie, in play and for hard work, and allows them to express as they see fit the skills and values of which their school-day classrooms have made them experts.