Tournament One of the CDL season kicked off in October with competitions hosted by several schools: Morgan Park High School hosted the LCC and RCC tournaments, Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center hosted Conference “A” and Frederick Douglass Academy hosted Conference “AA”. The competition was strong, with spirited debates at all three tournaments.

At Morgan Park, Northside College Prep took home top honors in Varsity and JV with finals wins over Lane Tech and Lincoln Park, respectively. At Von Steuben, Chicago Ag took home bragging rights in Varsity for the first month of the season, narrowly edging out Hyde Park Academy with higher speaker points among unbeaten teams in the four preliminary debates.

In the JV division at Conference “A,” CDL guest school Evanston Township led the pack of unbeaten JV teams, followed by CICS Northtown Academy, Little Village High School, and two unbeaten JV teams from Alcott High School for the Humanities. At Douglass, Collins Academy took home first place in Varsity and University of Chicago Charter School – Woodlawn narrowly edged out VOISE Academy- Austin Campus for first in JV.

Teacher Mark Janka of Rowe-Clark Math and Science Academy explains the important foundation laid by Tournament One: “The first tournament of the year is always exciting. Students come to the tournament as prepared as possible, but everyone senses that there is still so much to learn. One wonderful thing about competitive debate is how it opens up learning opportunities. It’s nice when the motivation to learn stops being driven by competition and is replaced by genuine interest in the topic. As a coach and a judge, I always look forward to Tournament Two to see how much debates improve in four short weeks.”

Students debated the 2010-2011 debate topic – Resolved: that the United States federal government should substantially reduce its military and/or police presence in one or more of the following: South Korea, Japan, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey.

Among the common arguments heard concerned the virtues of diplomatic alliances compared to military deterrence; the risks of our allies developing their own weapons in the absence of American military presence; the relationship between foreign deployments and international terrorism; philosophical debates about the way our nation constructs threats based on other cultures and nations; and how the rights of women in Afghanistan are affected by our military presence.

Tournament One also offered opportunities for growth for coaches as well as students. CICS Northtown teacher David Polanski, a first-year coach, remarked: “I felt that the tournament staff, the judges, and the other teams were incredibly welcoming. The tournament was set up so that the returning students felt challenged, while at the same time my first-timers felt comfortable enough to take risks and to put themselves out there without fear of failure. It was a learning experience for all levels of debaters, and the students walked into practice that following Monday energized and determined to keep improving.”

“For me and my students it was the start of a new season, in a new league, with a new topic. It was also a chance to renew our love for debate. Although it was a bit hard to get the big file boxes and highlighters back out of storage, as soon as we began, ‘Contention 1 is Inherency…’ I think we all remembered what makes the long weekend hours well worth the time and so much more,” said Melina Luna, teacher at Alcott High School for the Humanities.

Morgan Park debater Tyona Golden echoes Mr. Polanski’s message of improvement and motivation coming out of Tournament One, saying, “While we didn’t accomplish all the goals we set as a team at the first tournament, it was an encouragement to do better at the next tournament, and all tournaments to come.”