On the weekend of February 20-21, 45 schools and nearly 400 debaters assembled for the 2009 Allstate Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Conference Championship in Debate, the largest Conference Championships ever. The championships for the “A” and “AA” Conferences were sponsored by Allstate Insurance. The Conference “A” Championship was hosted by the Kenwood Academy and the Conference “AA” Championship was hosted by Hubbard High School.

The Allstate Chicago Public Schools Conference Championships provided a regular-season conclusion to the largest and most competitive season, the twelfth, of the Chicago Debate League. Fifty-one high schools, represented by nearly 800 students, have regularly competed this year, as well as nine middle schools. The Championships are the culmination of five months of preparation, practice and competition that are the product of the enthusiasm and engagement of students, teachers and other supporters across the city.

Conference “A” Champions

The “A” Conference Varsity Champion was the team of Michael Harris and Terrence George of Lincoln Park High School, who narrowly defeated the team of Jamar Garrett and Stephen Mack from King College Prep in the finals. The Top Speaker was Max Smith of the host Kenwood Academy and Jamar Garrett of King was Second Speaker.

The “A” Conference Junior Varsity Champion was the team of Jazz Craft and Stephanie Rogers of the Phoenix Military Academy who defeated Meagan Ponti and Robert Wietecki from Taft High School in the finals. The Top JV Speaker was Pauline Day from Lincoln Park.

Conference “AA” Champions

The “AA” Conference Varsity Champion was the team of Brandon McNamara and Ted Phillips from Harlan Community Academy High School, who defeated Luz Diaz and Muriel Dorsey from Prosser Career Academy in the finals. The Top Speaker was Luis Cortes from Amundsen High School and the Second Speaker was Brandon McNamara of Harlan.

The “AA” Conference JV Champion was the team of Datrese Hearn and Raygene Brice from Marshall Metropolitan High School, who defeated Bernard Joyner and Kahleif Bell from the Hyde Park Academy in the finals. The Top JV Speaker was Edward Ward from Orr High School.

Allstate Sponsorship Adds Unique New Value

Michele Coleman Mayes, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Allstate, gave the Keynote Speech at the Awards Ceremony. “Allstate is pleased it has the opportunity to support the Chicago Debate League and to contribute to this tournament. We recognize the hard work participants and coaches have invested in preparing for this tournament. Your participation is appreciated and applauded,” she stated. General Counsel Mayes also discussed her own background, emphasizing that determination and skill with language were key in getting her to the prominent place she holds today in her profession.

The Chicago Debate Commission (CDC) is very enthused about the unprecedented nature of Allstate’s generous involvement, marking the first corporate sponsor of a regular CDL tournament. Allstate provided $1,000 college scholarships to each Conference Champion and additional scholarships to the Finalists and Semi-Finalists. They also provided food and awards and the highly valuable direct involvement of Allstate employees as judges, tournament volunteers, and informal mentors and role models to students during the tournament. The CDC hopes to build a strong and lasting relationship with Allstate.

David G. Gilligan, Chief High School Officer of CPS, commented on the crucial role played by Allstate. “The very existence of this event is a tribute to the strength of the Chicago Debate League, in its 12th year, and to the visionary leadership and generosity of Allstate. To Allstate, we are deeply grateful for your generosity in underwriting this event.. We also wish to thank you for extending your expertise and experience to our young people,” he said.

This corporate sponsorship is consistent with Allstate’s corporate philosophy of engaging with and supporting the community in which it is based. Its pledge to the Chicago community is that “Allstate takes a special interest in the greater Chicagoland community, our company’s hometown for more than 75 years. We are particularly invested in this community because we recognize that a thriving hometown is critical to Allstate’s success. We recruit local talent, rely on local infrastructure and depend on the city’s vibrancy to ensure that our associates have a rich quality of life. By supporting organizations that build strong Chicagoland communities, we contribute to the city’s position as a center of global culture, education and business.”