HW successfully hosts nationally-acclaimed debate tournament

Joie Zhang

Two hundred eighty-seven debaters from 50 schools in 10 states communed at Harvard-Westlake’s Upper School to compete in various debate formats such as Lincoln-Douglas, World Schools and the Middle School Public Debate Program (MSPDP).

Ten nationally-ranked debaters faced off in a pre-tournament round-robin competition on Jan. 17 and 18. Harvard-Westlake (HW) debaters Vishan Chaudhary ’19 and Spencer Paul ’19 closed out in finals. Chaudhary was named the first speaker and Paul placed as the first seed.

The main tournament took place from Jan. 19 to 21 with debaters competing in World Schools debate and Novice or Varsity Lincoln-Douglas debate.

Middle school students participated in MSPDP on Jan. 21.

Nilufer Mistry Sheasby ’24 was awarded second place speaker in MSPDP. Her team won three out of their four debates about the rise in secessionist movements around the world and whether voting in elections should be compulsory in the United States. Mistry Sheasby reflected on her experience with debate.

“In debate, all your prior knowledge, your speaking skills, your strategic and argumentative reasoning, it all comes together. You think that you come into the round prepared, but you are constantly twisting and adapting and finding a new way to slowly but methodically prove your case and pick away at your opponent’s without malice, but purely with nuanced, ever-changing ideas and refutes. And when you step out of the round, your head spinning and full of new concepts and questions, you leave a more humbled and intelligent person than when you stepped in. And that’s what I love about it,” Mistry Sheasby said.

HW debate teacher and coach Jasmine Stidham expressed her appreciation with how the HW community worked together to keep the tournament running smoothly.

“The tournament went incredibly well. The Harvard-Westlake students and parents all contributed immensely to the tournament’s success by helping it run on time, providing food, directing competitors, and assisting our younger students. A tournament of this size is only made possible by people who are willing to go the extra mile in showing the debate community what HW is all about,” Stidham said.