If you enter into a war of words with Cassius Clay ’09, you should be well-armed. On Sunday, Clay qualified for the 2009 World Individual Debate and Public Speaking Championships by winning first Individual Speaker at a tournament at St. Sebastian’s School in Needham, Massachusetts. This is the second time that Clay has qualified for the World Championships. He attended the world tournament this spring, held in Germany, and ranked 50th overall. This year, the championships will be held at the Reading Blue Coat School in England in late March. The competition is comprised of four categories: debating, impromptu speaking, interpretative reading and a choice of persuasive speaking or after-dinner speaking (humorous speeches). For World’s, Clay must debate in all categories but chose persuasive speaking over after-dinner speaking. The competition requires extemporaneous parliamentary style debate. Phillips Academy is a member of the Debating Association of New England Independent Schools (DANEIS). DANEIS invited all of its member schools to attend the debate at St. Sebastian’s. Clay said, “It’s always nerve-wracking because at St. Sebastian’s, there were kids who went to Worlds last year from America.” Clay added, “St. Sebastian’s was impromptu…speaking, [so] you can’t really prepare for a specific topic as much as just prepare your speaking style.” Chase Ebert ’09 was Clay’s debate partner at St. Sebastian’s. “[Clay] was very good at really helping hammer out the main points of the debate. He was very on top of his game,” said Ebert. “…He’s very articulate, he has a very measured way of speaking.” Clay has been involved with Philomathean Society, Phillips Academy’s debate club since his Junior year. He is currently Co-Vice President of the club. “[Debate] always makes you challenge what you think is real,” said Clay. “I think being able to jump back and forth on both sides of major issues is really important.” Alexander McHale ’09, President of Philomathean Society, said, “We’re all very proud of Cassius.” Ebert, McHale and Tiffany Li ’09, Co-Vice President of Philomathean Society, all have chances to qualify for the World Championships this weekend at the International Independent Schools Public Speaking Championships in Canada. Ebert said, “I feel very confident going into this, that it’s going to be a good weekend and I think we’re all going to represent Andover well.” “I’m excited to meet new kids and debate and hopefully bring home some new trophies,” said McHale. Philomathean Society has grown and changed this year under its current Senior Board. McHale said the changes included the addition of two coaches: Dr. Robert Hutchings, a History Instructor and Director of Speech and Debate at the Pike School, and Ben Belser, the Vice President of Harvard University’s Parliamentary debate team. McHale also said that Philomathean Society is making more of an effort to work with students on improving their debating skills by hosting multiple drill sessions every week. Li said, “We’ve always been really competitive outside of campus, we’ve always scored really well in debates, but we’re trying to have more of a presence on campus.”
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