By Mia Romano
Pictures above left from right in the top row is Miriam Yakobashvili, Lilinaz Hakimi, Nicole Vanderzon, Juliana Blayney. Bottom row left from right is Karina Vasudeva and Sophie Bresnicky.
Since September, B-CC’s debate team has been hard at work preparing for and competing in tournaments. After researching and preparing for both sides of an argument, they debate with students from other schools in Montgomery County. “We have a tournament every month with a new resolution that’s usually about a current event or topical subject. Some from the past have been about free community college, lifting sanctions on Venezuela, and using offensive cyber operations,” said Anya Sokolowski, a junior on B-CC Debate. Since they could be told to argue for either side of a topic, debaters need to be ready for both beforehand. Weekly practices consist of discussing the resolution, contentions, and evidence, along with working on speech and presentation skills.
On February 20th, the second day of Montgomery County Debate Finals, B-CC Debate was awarded 1st Place in the league. “It’s a truly crazy feeling! There are so many talented people at these tournaments so it definitely was not an easy battle for B-CC — which makes winning feel so incredible! At the same time, our team worked really hard this season and put it all out there, so it feels great to see the grind pay off,” said senior Sophie Bresnicky, one of the captains. On the first day of finals, the competitors consist of about 70 pairs that make it out of 300. Then in order to move forward to the second day, pairs have to get into the top 16. The B-CC Debate coach, Mr. Gallagher said, “B-CC was able to get 6 pairs in the top 16, which is the most we’ve ever gotten before.”
The team gave up lunches and weekends to prepare, but all of their hard work got them to where they are now. Senior Arjun Akwei said, “Being first place in the league means a lot to all of us because it’s the capstone of how far we’ve come as a team. We started four years ago as a team trying to establish ourselves as someone worth taking seriously, but now we’ve established ourselves as just that, and maybe more.” When the team began five years ago, B-CC Debate was getting crushed by the top team, Richard Montgomery, but they were improving each year. “This year our goal was first place, but 4 years ago that would have been so far out of reach it would not have even been a goal. I’m proud of how far the kids have come over the last four years, especially this year’s seniors,” said Mr. Gallagher.
Juniors Roy Tiefer and Eli Glickman are the first B-CC debate pair to qualify for nationals in about 20 years. They’ve been traveling around the country and debating on the national circuit, after beating Whitman to qualify for nationals. Tiefer said, “We travel to tournaments all across the country like every other weekend and compete with other schools, be they neighbors from Blair or strangers from Alaska.”
The debaters from B-CC credit much of their success to how they work together as a team. Bresnicky said, “This was a team-wide achievement, with everyone contributing to our success.” Whether it was going out to celebrate after a tournament, or as what Akwei called “frantic discussions between rounds,” the debaters were there to support each other. Instead of simply being a collection of pairs, they functioned as one team. Junior Roy Tiefer said, “We operate together, or not at all.”
Although, none of this would be possible without Mr. Gallagher. Coaching a team of about 60 students is not easy. Junior Ella Trevelyan said, “We have an amazing coach and a team full of strong-willed and goal-oriented debaters that worked hard to prepare for every individual debate, and that showed in our record.” By guiding the team in its preparation and pushing students to be the best they can, the students were able to debate their way to the top. In addition to debating itself, the students have also learned life lessons from Mr. Gallagher. Akwei said, “We had to learn how to see both sides to an issue, something that you don’t get to do a lot in our world today, and that made all of us better prepared to navigate the world around us.” Mr. Gallagher has made B-CC Debate an experience the debaters will never forget. Being a senior, Bresnicky said, “I’ll miss Mr. Gallagher. He’s our number one supporter, and has devoted so much time to molding this team into the strong debaters we’ve become!”