Andover Students Place Second in Philomatheon Debate Competition

This past Sunday, Phillips Academy Andover took second place at the Second Annual Andover Invitational. Choate Rosemary Hall won first place in the tournament with three more points than Andover’s team. Jack Sykes ’12 and Ferris Peale ’12 were the top pair in the novice division. Philomathean Society, Andover’s debate club, hosted 17 schools at the debate tournament. Andover Invitational consisted of three rounds of debate, an exhibition round and an award ceremony. Debaters from 17 different schools throughout the New England area, including Phillips Exeter Academy, Hotchkiss School, Choate Rosemary Hall and Deerfield Academy came to Andover for the debate. Andover has one of the few student-run debate teams in the New England prep school community. “Philo is a purely extracurricular activity. That is the biggest difference between Andover and all of its opponents. We are student-run, done on student time, and therefore, we are automatically at a disadvantage when we go into a debate,” said Kate Wiener ’11, Co-Head of Philomathean Society. The participating schools brought a variety of students in terms of size, preparation, and skill level. Wiener said, “Preparation is huge. There are a bunch of schools that have debate as a class so they train every single day, five days a week.” Andover Invitational was a Worlds Qualifying tournament for the Debating Association of New England Independent Schools (DANEIS). According to its website, DANEIS provides opportunities for public speakers and debaters to compete both regionally and internationally. “Being a Worlds Qualifying tournament definitely encourages participation from a lot of schools,” said Wiener. Andover entered eight students into the tournament this year. “[In the tournament], there are two divisions: advanced and novice. They compete separately and everything about them is kept separate,” said Elisabeth Tully, Faculty Advisor to Philomathean Society and Director of Oliver Wendell Holmes Library. According to Tully, there were 46 novice pairs and 42 advanced pairs at the tournament. Cason Crane ’11, an advanced debater from Choate Rosemary Hall, said, “I think Andover runs a very strong debate every year and I think this year they made a wise decision in shortening the pre-debate meeting.” “I think they took a risk in trying to make it more efficient by cutting out the redundant information. But I think it worked well and, as far as I can tell, there weren’t any hiccups as a result,” he continued. “I was paying very close attention to how they ran things this year and I have some things that I am going to try to implement in our debate program this year to try to make it run more efficiently,” Crane added. At the end of the debate, Chris Meyer ’11, Co-Head of the Philomathean Society, announced the Hotchkiss pair, including Cameron Ewing ’11 and Julius Dixon ’12, as the advanced division winners. Ewing was the Top Advanced Speaker of the debate, which qualified him for the 2011 World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships. “If I go to Worlds this year, it will be my third time. [Worlds] involves both debating and public speaking. You have to write and memorize a couple speeches so it always entails a lot of hard work,” said Ewing. According to Wiener, Ewing is renowned throughout the New England debate community and the international community as a qualified debater. Wiener said, “Cameron Ewing was probably going to qualify for worlds no matter where or what, so I’m glad he qualified at our debate today.” Although a Canadian debate team was invited to the tournament, the school could not obtain the students’ visas in time to attend. Wiener said, “We are hopeful that next year we will be Andover International. The tournament was definitely a success overall. It was crazy, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”