Westfield HL Champions the Ridge Debates

The 9th annual Ridge Debates kicked off on Friday, December 7th, drawing high school parli-ers on the East Coast to the tournament for the first time by adding a parliamentary debate division.

In the final round, Westfield’s Patrick Henderson & Ryan Lafferty defeated Regis’s Ralph Lamberti & Michael Mazzariello on a 2-1 decision, negating the resolution, “This house would give reparations to descendants of slaves.” This marked Henderson’s second win this year, after championing the Vassar Invitational in November with partner Benjamin Mione.

Though this was the first year that the tournament included parliamentary debate, many other events are normally offered, such as congress, Lincoln-Douglas, policy, and public forum debate. Tournament director David Yastremski had no experience himself with parliamentary debate, but after seeing his students performing well in parliamentary debate, and talking to representatives from the New York Parliamentary Debate League, he said, he decided to try adding parliamentary debate to the tournament.

“Last year, Jerry Yang and Jennifer Huang, two debaters for Ridge, reached quarterfinals at Yale, and semifinals at Columbia, which really got the rest of our debate team interested in parliamentary debate,” Yastremski said.

The resolutions consisted of topics ranging from carbon to American security. Nick Hansen, a Ridge High School alumni who competed for the school and participated in parliamentary debate at the college level, stepped in to help write the resolutions for the tournament.

However, Stuyvesant parliamentary debater Amanda Piasecki was one of several debaters at the tournament who mentioned concerns about the final round’s topic on reparations. “Though I can’t speak for the debaters, I can only imagine that debating this put both sides into an uncomfortable situation, particularly since all 4 debaters were white men,” she said. “From the perspective of an observer, it was difficult to watch though I think both sides did the best they could.'“

Additionally, when one of her teammates brought up his discomfort with the topic to an adult tournament organizer, the organizer’s response was disappointing, Piasecki said. 

One of the challenges of adding parliamentary debate for the first time was trying to get enough judges, Yastremski said. Since this style of debate has not been offered in New Jersey at the high school level, he noted, judges can be hesitant to try something new.

With many judges new to parliamentary debate, Piasecki noted, and often “either not thoroughly trained or used to public forum style debate,” the quality of rounds was “negatively impacted.” Despite judging concerns, she was impressed with the tournament logistically, given that Ridge debaters tabbed the tournament.

“Hopefully, this tournament can be a gateway for New Jersey into parliamentary debate,” Yastremski said. Given that parli is currently limited to California, Oregon, New York, and Connecticut, the addition of tournaments in a new state would be a welcome change.


Regis Colin Adamo & Aleksandr Petukhov def. Regis Francis Barth & Rafael Foncillas (BYE)

Regis Cameron Greene & Balthazar Sheehan def. Regis Brian Lee & Liam McClain (BYE)

Regis Ralph Lamberti & Michael Mazzariello def. Bridgewater Raritan Yash Addaganti & Chrisvin Jabamani (2-1)

Westfield Patrick Henderson & Ryan Lafferty def. Regis Thomas Barone & Marko Gural (3-0)


Westfield Henderson & Lafferty def. Regis Lamberti & Mazzariello (3-0)

Regis Adamo & Petukhov def. Regis Greene & Sheehan (BYE)


Westfield Henderson & Lafferty def. Regis Adamo & Petukhov (2-1)