Newsletter 2015/2016. Issue #1

Dear friends of the Harvard-Westlake Debate Team:

The season is off to a great start. Here are some highlights.


4 Weekends, 10 Finalists

The year started off at the Loyola Invitational, which is the default start of the National CircuitCameron  Cohen '16 Nick Steele '16 closed-out the final round of the tournament. Evan Engel '17 cleared to elimination rounds.

Almost immediately after LoyolaNick and Cameron were off to the Greenhill Round Robin in Dallas, Texas. The round robin is historically one of the most prestigious of the year. Both Cameron and Nick won 10 out of 14 ballots in their respective groups. 

That same weekend, we had some of our younger debaters out at the Yale University Invitational. There, Indu Pandey '18 qualified to elimination rounds.

Back in Texas, Nick and Cameron as well as Connor Engel '18 and Evan all cleared to elimination rounds at the Greenhill Invitational. Harvard-Westlake was the only school to have four debaters make it to the elims. Connorand Evan were both eliminated in the first elimination round. Nick made it to the Quarterfinal round (top 8) and Cameron was the eventual tournament champion with a perfect ballot count of 18-0. In addition to all of their strong final placing, EvanNick and Cameron also won 11th, 4th and 2nd place speaker awards.

In addition to the Lincoln-Douglas debaters, we also had a team competing in the inaugural World Schoolsdivision at the Greenhill Invitational. The team of Aiden Luscinski '17, Alec Winshel '16 and Liz Yount '17 made it to the final round, where they eventually lost to the host school. Liz and Alec also won 4th and 3rd place speaker awards, respectively.

After Greenhill and Yale, we started the full LD team season with 51 HW debaters competing at the Jack Howe Invitational at CSU Long Beach. A long and grueling tournament, CSULB marks the kick-off of the season for most California teams. Kevin Wesel '17 cleared to elimination rounds in Varsity. Emmanuel Zilber '19Nick Platt '19 and Emily Wesel '19 made elimination rounds in JV. 

In the novice division, the most competitive at CSULB, wehad 5 debaters make the top 16Hannah Mittleman '20and Spencer Klink '20 finished as Octafinalist (top 16). Alexandra Mork '20 finished as a Quarterfinalist (top 8). Jaya Nayar '20 and Will Cook-Healy '19 both went undefeated in prelims and elims and closed out the tournament

A special shout-out to George Grube '20, who was our top-placing speaker at 11th place.

As a team, Harvard-Westlake finished first place in overall team sweepstakes in debate. Keep in mindwe onlyparticipate in Lincoln-Douglas Debate. Sweepstakes calculates entries from 5 different types of debate. This makes finishing first especially impressive.

Thank you to Connor and Evan who spent the weekend helping coach the team on what could have been aweekend off. 

After Long Beach, Connor and Evan headed to New Orleans to participate in the Holy Cross Round Robin. Connor made it the final round of the Round Robin. 

During the Holy Cross Invitational, we had competitors in Lincoln-Douglas and World SchoolsLauren Morganbesser '19, Evan and Connor made it to elimination rounds. Lauren finished an Octafinalist. Connorfinished a Semifinalist and Evan made the final round. 


The Team Grows

Over the course of the last few years we've been tracking the number of debaters participating on the team. We are clearly trending up. 

Unique number of students who participated in tournaments: 
2013/2014: 59
2014/2015: 68
2015/2016: 60 (through today, meaning no MS debaters, as do not start until later this month. The total number of debaters we have had signup to participate in all grades is 118).

Total Entries - Number of students counted as entries to every tournament (Through October):
2011/2012: 182
2012/2013: 213
2013/2014: 290
2014/2015: 385
2015/2016: 174 (Just through October)

Tournaments - Number of tournaments we attend:
2011/2012: 24
2012/2013: 31
2013/2014: 34
2014/2015: 38
2015/2016: 45 (estimated)


Other Debate Activities

In addition to their duties as being a part of the LD team, Liz Yount is leading our World Schools team and Jesse Nadel '17 is heading our efforts in competing in the International Public Policy ForumLiz was selected among hundreds of applicants to be named one of 9 members of Team USA. This is the third year in row Harvard-Westlake has had at least one debater make Team USA.

Closer to home, we are also pleased to be working with Valor Academy in Panorama City as they work to build a debate team as part of the Los Angeles Metro Debate League (part of the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues). Valor is part of Bright Star Schools, a collection of 5 charter schools in LAUSD. This mentorship opportunity was brought to us by Ari Engelberg '89 (Jake '21), who himself was a debater at Harvard School, a coach and now the Interim Director of Communications. 


Alums Pitch-in

We are also excited to welcome back a couple of alumni who are going to serve as part-time debate coaches. Annie Kors '14 (Yale '18) and Jake Sonnenberg '11 (Stanford '15, Columbia Law School '19) will be spending some of their free time working with our debaters. Jeremy Rosen '89 and Jodi Krueger (Ethan '19) continue to volunteer their time to support in coaching and judging responsibilities.

We are also pleased to welcome Peter Van Elswyk, who served as an assistant coach for Harvard-Westlake between 2008-2012, back to the team. He is currently working on his PhD in Philosophy at Rutgers University.


Looking Forward to Summer

Many Harvard-Westlake students participated in our inaugural summer of DebateLA. We already have the dates chosen for next year. Please visit for information. 

Thank you for your continued support. We truly believe all of our success starts with the efforts and support of so many in the Harvard-Westlake Community. 

Warmest regards,

The Harvard-Westlake Debate Team. 

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