College debater launches high school parliamentary debate league in Washington, D.C.
A student from a college with an internationally recognized debate program has helped high schools in the nation’s capital launch a debate league of their own.
Established in September by Bates College senior Brian O’Doherty in collaboration with the District of Columbia schools, the Brooks Quimby Debate League is an intracity organization engaging teachers from high schools, public and private. Georgetown University debate and mock trial team members have served as mentors and coaches. “Debate builds intellectual abilities,” O’Doherty says. “And like sport, debate is competitive. It gives you confidence and self-esteem when you’re good at it.”
With the support of the city, O’Doherty organized six public school debate teams while inviting all Washington schools to develop teams for competition. The league held its first tournament Oct. 21, with 50 debaters from seven schools, and plans its next meet at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at National Cathedral School.
O’Doherty, a political science and psychology double major and top Bates debater, received a $10,000 Phillips Student Fellowship from Bates to fund his project (named for the legendary 1927-67 Bates debate coach. Of more than 100 Washington high school debaters, about 30 are students of color and approximately half come from economically depressed areas, O’Doherty says. Most debaters are sophomores and juniors while freshman and seniors constitute 20 percent of the league. Participating schools include: Eastern High School, Bannecker High School, Duke Ellington High School, Georgetown Visitation Prep, Maret School, National Cathedral School, St. Anselm School and Field School. O’Doherty, a native of Kennebunkport, Maine, hopes to find corporate support for the league’s continued growth by the time he returns to Bates in January 2002.
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