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Potomac Falls students participate in Boston competition

Debaters+toured+the+Boston+Commons+area+while+on+their+break+from+the+competition.%0A%0APhoto+submitted+by+Sherlyn+Chuang
Debaters toured the Boston Commons area while on their break from the competition.

Photo submitted by Sherlyn Chuang

Debaters toured the Boston Commons area while on their break from the competition. Photo submitted by Sherlyn Chuang

Debaters toured the Boston Commons area while on their break from the competition. Photo submitted by Sherlyn Chuang

Dana Altarace, Staff Writer

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   On Feb. 18, six members of the Potomac Falls Debate Club took a plane to Cambridge, Massachusetts to attend the 43rd annual Harvard National Invitational Forensics Tournament. The tournament lasted for three days and included over 500 competitors from all over the country. When the debaters found out they were invited to this event, they were really enthusiastic to participate.

  “It was really exciting, this is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the country with over 500 competitors. This is the kind of stuff you put on your college applications, and it’s really important for leadership skills,” said senior Akash Bhat.

To get in, the school had to sign up and choose the most experienced debaters to participate.

  “Our debate coaches couldn’t take every person on our team, so they picked the top five or six debaters- the seniors and two juniors,” said senior Sherlyn Chuang.

The chosen debaters were Bhat, senior Diana Gonzales, and juniors Jack Dao and Ahmed Adam, who all competed in the Congressional Debate, and Chuang and senior Naqia Zaveri who competed in Public Forum.

  In Congressional Debate, students debate bills and resolutions from mock legislation. The students research their debate topics and information about why their solution is the best. In Public Forum, debaters compete in pairs. Each pair competes against another pair and argues a topic of national importance. One pair affirms while the other negates the topic.

Some topics for Congressional Debate at the Harvard debate tournament dealt with Palestine vs Israel, online voting, and mandatory minimum sentencing. The topic for Public Forum was about whether or not the US should lift the Cuban embargo.

  The debaters took on these topics with the help from their experiences from past competitions.

  “I went to NCFL (National Catholic Forensic League) in Sacramento last year, and that was one of the biggest tournaments of the year,” said Bhat.

 But this tournament, compared to the others they have participated in, was a very big deal. “Our debate team at Potomac Falls is actually quite small, so we don’t get a lot of chances to go to national tournaments. The fact that we got to go to Harvard out of all of them was pretty amazing,” said Chuang.

  With the extra time they had in Cambridge, the Potomac Falls debaters got a chance to tour the area to see what Cambridge has to offer.

  “We actually went around Harvard, and also Boston Commons [but] really late at night. We [also] went to Harvard Square and to the North End where we had all this authentic Italian food. It was a lot of fun,” said Bhat.

   Overall, the team agrees that it was a great experience and an enjoyable event. The debaters continue to hone their skills for the upcoming regional and metro tournaments.

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