Keeping up with current events is a must for Milton’s Daneis League Debate Team members. The team is a “small but mighty group,” says faculty advisor Susan Marianelli. This year’s team—which includes 20 students—had great success in recent league tournaments.
The Daneis League is made up of independent schools from across New England. Students compete in parliamentary-style debate on Sundays throughout the year. About 30 teams compete in each division at each tournament; team members typically compete as pairs in either the novice or varsity division.
Romain Speciel (III) and Ben Pratt (IV)—both new to the team this year—competed as a pair this season. “Team practices helped us understand not only the structure and strategies of debate, but also the delicate techniques that can mean the difference between winning and losing,” says Romain.
In their first tournament at Andover, the pair took second place in the novice division, and Romain earned third as individual speaker.
“Our results motivated us further, and debate has since become a major part of our extracurricular activities,” says Ben. “It has taught us to work effectively with each other, to address issues without much time to prepare, and to think on our feet.”
Debate topics can range from whether voting should be mandatory to whether cosmetic surgery should be banned; topics also include more high school-centric issues: whether computer science should be a graduation requirement, or if a cap on private school tuition should exist.
Romain and Ben competed with Katherine Wilcox (IV) and Quincy Hughes (III) as a four-person novice team at the Choate tournament and earned second place. Jam Smith (I) and Juliet Pesner (I) competed as a two-person varsity team and earned third place. At the St. Sebastian’s tournament, Jonathan WuWong (III) and Yudaam Han (I) earned third place in the novice division. Jam was the overall Top Speaker for Milton.