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Barlow to Take on the World at Debate

The following article was written by Randall Smith, the Barlow debate team's advisor.

For the first time ever, Joel Barlow's four-time state championship debate team will be sending a student is headed to the world championships. In two consecutive weekends, students from Barlow have taken top honors, earning a total of six awards at tournaments hosted by private schools, Loomis-Chaffee and King Low Heywood Thomas.

The topic at Loomis was green building and the Barlow Debate Team managed to build a bridge beyond their shores as one of their own, senior Nicolò Marzaro earned an invitation to the World Individual Debate and Public Speaking Championship held this year at the Clifton School in Durban, South Africa.

Barlow has done well at Loomis in the past, but their current advanced speakers were more dominant than any roster that they have ever had before at this qualifying tournament held at the Loomis-Chaffee School in Windsor, Connecticut, earning four awards in advanced competition as the only public school among the elite private academies that comprise the Debater Association of New England Independent Schools (DANEIS).

Marzaro was the first place advanced speaker with a commanding 77 points, and by earning it, he was the one person from the tournament to be selected to move on to the World Finals. His partner, senior Cooper D'Agostino was just one point behind him, finishing as the second-place advanced speaker, two ahead of the next highest from Andover. Together they had the highest scoring 3-0 record, a massive seven points ahead of number two Andover, making them the first-place advanced team for the day. 

This tournament was a unique prepared, switch-sides policy debate where competitors had a month to research green building technologies and strategies to advocate. D'Agostino and Marzaro researched a broad collection of reforms and standards including mandates to retrofit existing buildings based on LEED standards in order to make them more energy efficient, improve indoor air quality, and be made from sustainably-produced materials. Their plan prevailed over St. Pauls and Westfield Academy in the first two rounds and for round three they used a counter-plan to successfully negate Roxbury-Latin's policy. Negative teams sometimes advocate plan that is outside the resolution, arguing that it is is a better path to achieving the goals of the affirmative plan. In this instance, they argued that investing in research and development toward low-emissions energy sources was a better path to mitigating climate change and health problems caused by pollution than changing the way we build.

Their victories follow in the footsteps of last year's Barlow captains, Henry Knight and Sam Torchio, now freshmen at Brown and the University of Michigan respectively who were the top team at Loomis in 2012.

Although debaters compete in pairs, earning individual speaker plaques and team honors as pairs, awards are also given to groups of four. The strong 2-1 record of fellow seniors Ben Lewson and Caroline Ryng combined with Marzaro's & D'Agostino's was good enough to earn them the third-place advanced four-person team award.

Another quartet of Barlow debaters competed in advanced including junior Nicole Peterson along with sophomores Brooke Curto, Nathan Sobel, and Shawn Burger, all working hard and learning a lot from stiff competition that they can apply in coming years.

A week earlier at King Low Heywood Thomas (KLHT), a private school in Stamford, Barlow debaters earned several distinctions debating the idea of government no longer paying for reconstruction in natural disasters. Seniors Ben Lewson and Nicolò Marzaro earned the second and third place varsity speaker trophies respectively. Lewson & partner Caroline Ryng had the highest speaker point total of the day while Marzaro and partner Brendan Coppinger had the second highest total.

Five of the top ten speakers were from Barlow, including Hunter Ligthman in fifth, Caroline Ryng in sixth,and Cooper D'Agonstino in tenth. Another six Barlow students were included in the top twenty including Brendan Coppinger in eleventh, Harrison von Dwingelo in thirteenth, Brendan O'Connor in fourteenth, David Freeman in sixteenth, Cormac Cummiskey in seventeenth, and Will Tower in eighteenth.

While seniors lead the pack, a couple junior- sophomore varsity pairs significant gains. Junior David Freeman and sophomore Brooke Curto finished tenth and junior Brendan O'Connor and sophomore Sam Aldershof finished twelfth overall with strong 2-1 records. Junior Nicole Peterson along with sophomores Hunter Lightman, Harrison von Dwingelo and Will Tower all picked up a win. Juniors Carl Goldstein and Stephen Osika put in a solid effort against difficult opponents.

In novice, sophomores Shawn Burger and Nathan Sobel took round three from Ridgefield. First time freshmen Ben Ball and Max Sanderson got their first taste of competition against Greenwich and two pairs from the host school, King.

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