Debaters Compete at Worlds

This year’s World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championship (WIDPSC) was the final chance for Annabelle Duval ’19, co-captain of the Speech and Debate team, to represent Hotchkiss at an international competition.
From April 11 to 17, Duval and Alexander McLane ’20 competed at the 31st WIDPSC Tournament. They traveled to Branksome Hall, the host school in Toronto, along with Head Coach Mr. David Conti.
To prepare for strong competition and a new format at the WIDPSC, the debaters practiced extensively, both at school and in competitions in their league. Duval had the opportunity to try out her After Dinner speech at a public speaking tournament at the Northfield Mount Hermon school on March 31, where she earned third place in that category. Duval said, “I prepared [for WIDPSC] by practicing debates, writing, and memorizing my After Dinner speech. Debaters at Worlds, especially Canadian debaters, tend to be slightly more aggressive than debaters in our league, so it was important for us to match that style while debating against them.”
McLane and Duval both began their debate journey at Hotchkiss. McLane began in the novice division his first year on the team, participating in weekly debate meetings and the Yale Model UN conference. McLane also credited the discussion-based classes in his Humanities courses with teaching him the important skill of structuring an argument.
Duval participated in the International Independent Schools Public Speaking Competition (IISPS) for the first time her Upper Mid-year and qualified for the WIDPSC at the same tournament this fall. Duval said, “I started debating my Prep year. I’ve seen older debaters and past debate captains go to Worlds, so this competition has always been the ultimate goal for me.”
The 130 competitors represented some of the top high school debaters and public speakers from 12 countries on five continents. Attendees had to win regional or national tournaments in their home countries to qualify. The two Hotchkiss participants qualified by placing top six at the IISPS during this season.
At the WIDPSC, Mclane placed 37th in the world and 5th among Americans across all categories. McLane said, “I think debate and public speaking helps you develop incredibly valuable skills. I really would encourage anyone in the school to at least give it a shot. It is never too late to join [the team].”
During the 2019-2020 season, current Preps, Lower Mids, and Upper Mids will have the chance to qualify for next year’s WIDPSC tournament, which will be held in Shanghai.