Thirty five Stamford Public Schools (SPS) students, more than any other Connecticut school district, qualified and participated in the Connecticut Debate Association (CDA) State Finals on March 27, 2021. Out of 90 varsity speakers statewide who competed, Academy of Information Technology (AITE) Junior Aishwarya Sivasubramanian won First Place Varsity Speaker, and Stamford High School (SHS) Senior Panos Ketonis earned Fifth Place.
Out of the 45 varsity teams competing, AITE team of Aishwarya and Kevin Fleischer came in Second Place overall, and the AITE team of Claire Paolini and Lex Ylitalo ranked fifth. Westhill High School (WHS) team of Aryan Donikena and James Grosso finished tenth in the state.
Additionally, SHS Sophomore Ryan Shoztic finished as the ninth place speaker, while AITE’s Fleischer finished in tenth place.
“In a world that is becoming increasingly more apathetic toward the value of honest and informed discourse, I truly believe the SPS debate programs are doing our students, our community and our society as a whole a tremendous service,” said SHS Social Studies and IB Theory of Knowledge Teacher and Debate Coach Jeremy White. “Debate program students are bucking the trend, learning to express themselves and effectively communicate a position.”
Throughout the year, CDA hosts monthly high school tournaments across the state. Those teams and individual speakers who meet certain criteria during the regular season earn an invitation to the annual State Championship. The topic of this year’s championship debate was: "Resolved: The United States should have an open immigration policy." Twenty-seven schools statewide had at least one student debater qualify for the Championship. In addition to SPS qualifying more students than any other district statewide, SHS had the most student qualifiers of any public or private school.
“These students are learning to be confident in their ideas and open to differing perspectives. They are learning to take individual academic risks while also learning the values of teamwork and collaboration,” said White. “SPS encourages our students to make a difference in their communities and our debate programs are preparing our students to ensure that difference is significant."
Stamford Public Schools Connecticut Debate Championship Qualifiers
Academy of Information Technology & Engineering
Stamford High School
Westhill High School