Westfield champions Yale, kicking off the East Coast season


As the summer came to a close on September 14th-15th, high school debaters gathered at Yale University to kick off the parliamentary debate season. Five preliminary rounds and a break to octofinals later, Westfield’s Patrick Henderson & Ryan Lafferty won the final round on a 2-1 decision over Friends Seminary’s Kiran Singh and Gus Glasheen in the varsity division.

As side government, supporting the resolution “This house regrets the proliferation of surveillance cameras,” Henderson and Lafferty defined this house as the entire world, an interesting choice that worked in their favor.

“It was a really really interesting round that challenged me and my partner a lot,” Singh said. “Side government’s side won it with their definitions that encompassed all countries, which played to their advantage since some countries have extremely specific security policies.”

This year, the parliamentary division tab directors, Everett Rutan, Rodda John, and Jennifer Posner, saw the biggest turnout this tournament has ever seen. According to John, the number of teams increased from 63 the previous year to 81 this year.

John attributes this success to the increase in turnout diversity. Many more teams from California and New York flooded the debaters’ pool, breaking up the consistently Connecticut debater stream, he said. This year, 48 percent of the teams that attended Yale were from California or New York, more than ever before.

“Last year, the only debaters from California at Yale were my partner Sathvik and I, so it’s really exciting to see more west coast teams,” Maya Bodnick said. “People want a chance to get exposed to east coast debate, and Yale is a great opportunity for that.”

This year was the first year that the tournament was single-flighted instead of double-flighted, which helped the tournament end on time, alongside with the switch to motions being released electronically.

Adam Frommer, a debater from Horace Mann, appreciated these switches. “The efficiency made the tournament a lot more enjoyable, and it ran very smoothly in comparison to previous years,” he said.

In the varsity competitive field, the skill level was extremely high, with many of the outround winners having won other tournaments. Lafferty, with a different partner, championed Yale last year, and Henderson reached octofinals.

Syosset’s Ronit Dhulia was the tournament’s top speaker, Stella Han from Stuyvesant took second, and Peter Koenig from Menlo-Atherton took third.

The next East Coast parliamentary debate tournament, hosted by the New York Parliamentary Debate League, is from October 25th-26th at Friends Seminary. You can register at http://friendssem.tabroom.com.


Friends Seminary Gus Glasheen & Kiran Singh (G) def. Menlo-Atherton Andrew Fahey & Alex Waitz (2-1)

Westfield Patrick Henderson & Ryan Lafferty (O) def. Menlo-Atherton Maya Khodabakchian & Peter Koenig (3-0)


Westfield Henderson & Lafferty (G) def. Friends Seminary Glasheen & Singh (2-1)