Since it’s founding in 2008, the debate program at Skyline has built a tradition of developing top-notch debaters that can compete on par with the best in the Bay Area and beyond. This year is no different. In the last month alone the debate team has scored big with wins at tournaments in Utah, Santa Clara, and San Francisco.
The team of Christine Harris/Malachi Ambrose recently returned from the Alta Silver & Black Invitational in Utah, where they competed against some of the top private schools in the Western states. Christine and Malachi won their preliminary round 7-0 then won their first break round which allowed them to acquire a bid toward the necessary collection of bids for the Tournament of Champions slated for next year. Christine also won third best speaker and Malachi fifth best speaker of their rounds.
In the tournament leading up Alta Skyline pairs Melaake Felele/Rachel Chau and Christine/Malachi both made it to the finals, winning (6-1) and (7-0) respectively.
"In keeping with debate tradition, Christine/Malachi "walked over" the other finalists, because they were the higher seed. This meant the tournament ended three hours early. Christine won Top Speaker of the entire tournament," Christopher Scheer, Skyline's Debate teacher and coach.
Christine is not a newcomer to success and accomplishments in debate. Last year, she and her then partner Max Lee, Skyline graduate, made it all the way to the Tournament of Champions which is no easy feat.
Skyline falls under the Bay Area Urban Debate League (BAUDL), a non-profit organization that began as a way to level the playing field for urban schools wishing to have an access point into the world of debate. There are two other leagues that compete at the highest levels of debate and these leagues are filled with private schools and well-funded public schools and students that can afford the expense that comes along with competing.
BAUDL competes in policy or evidence-based debate. "This is the most evidence heavy type of debate and sets the bar at the high. It is the most challenging and difficult form, said Mr. Scheer. It is also the most transformative; the learning curve is the highest."
Skyline's debate program will compete in 6-7 BAUDL tournaments a year. Those that do well enough will be asked to join the traveling team and compete at Invitational around the state and country. Mr. Scheer says Skyline typically has 20-30 students who are serious about competing and focused with upwards of 100 students that attend anywhere from 1-2 tournaments.
"We want kids at all levels to give this a try and come to a tournament. It is important to get students to tournaments because once they get to a tournament they have a good, and they get hooked."
Skyline has four more BAUDL tournaments this year. There is still time for students to join the team. No experience necessary. Practices are everyday at lunch in room 84 with Harrison Noah. Anyone interested can come to Mr. Noah's room at lunch or speak with Mr. Scheer or the journalism teacher and one of the debate coaches Laila Samimi.
BAUDL workshops and tournaments are open to all students no matter their GPA or standing in school. All a student has to do is see a one of the coaches on campus (Mr. Scheer, Ms. Samimi, or Mr. Noah) or contact Mr. Scheer at 510-735-7394.