Members of the Atlantic Community High School and the Suncoast Community High School debate teams will soon take to the skies, as they board a flight to New York City to participate in the finals of an international debate contest. Both schools have advanced to the “Elite Eight” round of the Bickel & Brewer/New York University International Public Policy Forum (IPPF). By advancing, the teams win all-expenses-paid trips to New York April 16-18, and remain eligible to win a $10,000 grand prize.
“The Suncoast Community and Atlantic Community High School debate teams have distinguished themselves with their scholarship and written advocacy,” says William A. Brewer III, partner at Bickel & Brewer and founder of the IPPF. “These students now have the opportunity to showcase their oral debate skills on a global stage – as they join only six other teams in an advocacy competition that is unlike any other taking place in debate today.”
The IPPF is the only international contest that gives high school students the opportunity to participate in written and oral debates on issues of public policy. More than 230 high schools – representing 40 states and 31 foreign countries – registered for the 2009-10 IPPF competition, writing 2,800-word qualifying round essays on the topic, “Resolved: The United Nations should substantially increase humanitarian assistance for persons living in poverty.” Those essays were judged by an Essay Review Committee, which determined the top 32 teams based on the overall quality of each qualifying round paper. The top 32 teams entered into a single-elimination written debate tournament.
In the opening round, Suncoast Community competed against Clovis East High School in California, while Atlantic Community competed against Lakewood High School in Colorado. The schools volleyed a series of papers back and forth with their competitors via e-mail – arguing on opposing sides of the debate topic. A panel of judges reviewed the papers in the order they were presented and voted for the winning schools. Suncoast then defeated Clear Brook High School in Texas in the same written format to advance to the IPPF Finals Weekend in New York, while Atlantic defeated Henry Grady High School in Atlanta during the “Sweet 16” round. Suncoast now faces the debate team from the Singapore Ministry of Education in the IPPF quarterfinals. At the same time, Atlantic will compete against students from Samuel Marsden Collegiate School in New Zealand.
This upcoming competition gives the students the opportunity to supplement past written scholarship with oral advocacy. The competition is held on the New York University campus, where some of the world’s foremost experts in law, business, debate, and politics will select the winners of the opening oral rounds. The oral debates continue until the final two teams emerge. Those teams will debate before a panel of judges that includes Brewer, Ret. General Wesley Clark, NYU President John Sexton, National Forensic League Executive Director Scott Wunn and Melissa Maxcy Wade, director of forensics at Emory University. The finals will be streamed live at www.bickelbrewer.com/debate.
Following the proceedings, the students will be honored during a banquet and awards ceremony. Ret. General Clark will serve as the keynote speaker at the event. He also will help present the winning team with the $10,000 grand prize and the coveted “Bickel & Brewer Cup,” a traveling trophy that resides annually with the IPPF winner.