OCDL Debaters place at Stanford University

Over the weekend (February 10-11), four OCDL debaters competed at the 32nd Annual Stanford Invitational, hosted by Stanford University. The style of debate, Public Forum, is slightly different than the usual OCDL modified parliamentary style. Public Forum features two-member teams, a crossfire question and answer period (no POI's or heckles), and the ability to access electronics during the round. The competitive Junior Varsity Public Forum field was made up of 224 teams from 12 states, Canada, and China. Many of the teams in this division were high school students.

Two Fairmont Private School teams competed and gave stunning performances. The team of Vivien T. and Courtnie B. won 4 of the 5 preliminary seeding debates, and they then went on to win their triple-octofinals round and their double-octofinals round. The two ended their stellar run at the tournament in round 16 with a 9th place overall victory.

The debaters of the other team, Ryan G. and Nadia A., won all of their five preliminary seeding debates and all of their finals rounds. They eventually took home the championship trophy in their division! Their impressive showing included a 19-1 record!

We are very proud of our OCDL debaters for their success across different styles of debate!

OC Community Begins the Year with Winter Classic Debate Tournament

The Buena Park Junior High gym was full with people once again for the OCDL Winter Classic Tournament on Saturday, January 27th. Debaters, coaches, parents, and volunteers from Orange County and Los Angeles County gathered to experience the sport of debate. This tournament’s topics included the benefits “no kill” animal shelters, the use of standardized test scores, and the requirement of elected officials to disclose their finances.

The tournament concluded with the awards ceremony, which revealed the winning individuals and groups of the day. The First Place Overall Speaker Award of the tournament was Ryan Gumlia of the Fairmont North Tustin team. Ryan received the Golden Gavel, a handmade gavel created in the Buena Park Junior High wood shop. Ryan’s team, Fairmont GAT, took home the trophy for First Place Team of the event. Pegasus Senior performed well at the tournament, and received the Tournament Award for highest percentage of wins, along with the First Place Overall School award.

Every student improved their critical thinking, argumentation, and public speaking abilities at the Winter Classic Tournament. As the OCDL continues to expand, it will likely develop new workshops and events that will assist students and volunteers in the sport of debate. The next tournament will be the Spring Tournament on March 24th.

Southern California Regional Championship

Bringing together top middle school debaters from across Southern California, the Orange County Debate League (OCDL) hosted the Southern California Regional Championship May 27.

The Regional Championship was the final of a series of debate tournaments held at Buena Park Junior High this season. Participating students represented eight Southern California debate leagues: Orange County, Los Angeles, Pacific Coast, Golden State, Rancho California, Golden West, Inland Valley, and Desert Valley.

Students competed in four to five rounds throughout the day, discussing contemporary topics such as publicly funded political campaigns and the Keystone XL pipeline. These topics were thoroughly researched and familiarized students with current issues.

“We did various practice debates and wrote speeches to prepare,” debater Mihret M. said. “The topics help me get a better perspective on things most eighth graders aren’t aware of.”

Supporting the debaters, coaches provided mentorship while volunteer judges gave individual feedback after each round. The tournament was entirely made possible by the efforts of volunteers.

“The entire OCDL is run by people who care about debate and care about the success and learning of the students,” volunteer administrator Maya Kurkhill said.

Out of 76 teams and 228 students, a team from Saint Mark's Episcopal School won the championship title. Pegasus was the top school, and David E. from Los Angeles’ Campbell took home the Golden Gavel, the award for the highest scoring speaker of the day. The Regional Championship was overall a tournament of engaging debates and strong performances.

“Bringing these leagues together creates new opportunities and new perspectives,” OCDL Vice President Bora Oztekin said.

Fall Scramble

A flurry of young debaters gathered on the morning of October 28, assembling into teams named after beloved Halloween candies: Twix, Three Musketeers, Kit Kat, Twizzlers and Starbursts. Like all Orange County Debate League events, the annual Fall Scramble cultivates critical thinking, leadership, and teamwork skills. However, the Scramble is unlike other OCDL tournaments. Instead of competing in teams from their own schools, 237 debaters of various levels of experience were randomly mixed into new teams with teammates from other schools.

Tournament administrators began the day by announcing the newly created teams. Once debaters found their new teammates, the Buena Park Junior High School auditorium filled with chattering voices. Students got to know their new teammates as they organized their cases, practiced speeches, and discussed strategy.

After the final round, tournament administrators calculated the highest individual speaker and team scores. From The Pegasus School, Jared A. and Max P. tied for the highest overall speaker award. On team M&Ms, Marcus M. (New England Academy), Clara K. (Gordon H Beatty Elementary), and Jackson E. (The Pegasus School) took the first place team award with an undefeated record. Along with the benefits they gained from multiple rounds of debate, students collaborated and fostered relationships with other debaters throughout Southern California. At the upcoming December 2nd Holiday Tournament, students will likely encounter their scramble teammates once again - this time, on the other side of the podium.