The Old Rochester Regional Debate Team has just concluded a successful season. Twenty-five students from ORR were included in the 300 students in the Eastern Massachusetts Debate League from 15 schools from around Massachusetts.
All of the debates were held over Zoom. ORR students were allowed to be in person for the final debate and awards ceremony, which was “refreshing to see our fellow debaters in person,” said Edward Gonet IV.
This year was challenging for seniors since they did not get the year they had hoped for. Senior Co-Captain Emma Vivino of Marion said, “Debate has been my favorite club these past four years. While it was sad to have my senior year be a virtual debate season, I feel so lucky to have been able to work with the wonderful members of my debate team.”
Junior Mackenzie Wilson agreed with Emma, saying, “With challenges of technology issues, the confusing online world of Zoom, and lack of personal connection this year, it’s safe to say debate was unlike anything anyone in the league has seen. However, these obstacles allowed us as a debate community to showcase just how creative, versatile, and determined we are as a club. I was so proud of how successful this season was and look forward to an even more amazing senior year!”
Dr. Colin Everett, the debate coach, commented, “I commend the effort and perseverance of ORR debaters for their success in a challenging policy debate format and an important domestic policy topic this year.”
Debaters argued the merits of “Should the United States enact substantial criminal justice reform with regards to policing, sentencing, or forensic science?” Affirmative partners argued in favor of the topic, while negative partners argued against it. Speaking on their feet, the debaters would provide evidence to prove either side of the argument. Even with the virtual format of debate, ORR students did not come up short regarding awards.
The league gives out awards for winners of debate and then best speakers of the debate. Old Rochester Varsity A-Team (Bess Pierre, Payton Lord, Emma Vivino, and Edward Gonet IV) scored 3rd in 35 four-person varsity teams. Bess Pierre and Payton Lordplaced 3rd out of all of the negative partners in the league. Emma Vivino and Edward Gonet IV placed 3rd out of all of the affirmative partners in the league.
With regards to the best speakers in the league, John Kassabian (negative) scored 10th place, Serena O’Connell (affirmative) placed 10th, Bess Pierre (negative) scored 9th place, Mackenzie Wilson (affirmative) placed 7th, and Edward Gonet IV (affirmative) placed 1st. For the first-year debaters (Novices), the ORR Novice A Affirmative Team (Jacob Hadley, Theo Jacobsen, Eva Hartley,Jaymison Gunschel) placed 5th. The ORR Novice A Negative Team (Claudie Belanger, Thomas Galavotti, Tyler Young, Theo Jacobsen) also placed 5th.