Old Rochester debate team argues their way to success

Mar 2, 2021

The Old Rochester Regional Debate team has brought its season to a close, with a number of members placing well in competitions. 

The 25 students on the team debated over zoom against 15 other schools from across the state.

 “Debate has been my favorite club these past four years,” said Senior Co-Captain Emma Vivino of Marion. “While it was sad to have my senior year be a virtual debate season, I feel so lucky to have been able to work with the wonderful members of my debate team.” 

Junior Mackenzie Wilson agreed, adding that this year’s competitions were “unlike anything anyone in the league has seen.”

“However, these obstacles allowed us as a debate community to showcase just how creative, versatile and determined we are as a club,” Wilson said. “I was so proud of how successful this season was and look forward to an even more amazing senior year!” 

In the final debate, students spoke for or against the prospect of the United States enacting “substantial criminal justice reform with regards to policing, sentencing, or forensic science.”

Old Rochester Varsity A Team (Bess Pierre, Payton Lord, Emma Vivino, and Eddie Gonet IV) scored 3rd place overall of 35 four-person varsity teams. 

Bess Pierre and Payton Lord placed 3rd among the negative partners in the league. Emma Vivino and Eddie Gonet IV placed 3rd among the affirmative partners in the league. 

A number of students also placed among the best speakers in the league: John Kassabian (negative) scored 10th place, Serena O’Connell (affirmative) placed 10th, Bess Pierre (negative) scored 9th place, Mackenzie Wilson (affirmative) placed 7th, and Edward Gonet IV (affirmative) placed 1st. 

A number of novice debaters, in their first year on the team, also placed: The ORR Novice A Affirmative Team — Jacob Hadley, Theo Jacobsen, Eva Hartley, Jaymison Gunschel — placed 5th. 

The ORR Novice A Negative Team — Claudie Belanger, Thomas Galavotti, Tyler Young, Theo Jacobsen — also placed 5th. 

Claudie Bellanger was the 8th best novice negative speaker. 

"I commend the effort and perseverance of ORR debaters for their success in a challenging policy debate format and an important domestic policy topic this year,” said Dr. Colin Everett, the debate coach.