Hotchkiss Debaters Excel at Home Tournament and International Competition
Hotchkiss Speech and Debate Team

Members of the Hotchkiss School Speech and Debate Team at their home tournament on Oct. 29. View more photos.

Speech and Debate Team Sweeps Top Prizes at Home Tournament

The Speech and Debate Team welcomed 100 debaters from 13 schools to the home speech and debate tournament at Hotchkiss on Sunday, Oct. 29. Students competed in two rounds of parliamentary debate and two rounds of impromptu speaking. Continuing their successful season, the team won the top overall school award as well as both the top novice speaker and the top advanced speaker. In fact, the two Hotchkiss teams that competed came in first and second place overall.

At the novice level, individual awards included Shaye Lee ’26 as the top overall novice speaker, top novice debater, and second place novice impromptu. Isabella Deng '27 was the third place novice debater. Shaye and Isbabella were the first place novice debate pair. Teo Everts ’26 and Julian Zheng ’26 finished as the second place novice debate pair. 

The advanced debaters did equally well. Co-Captain Ben Who ’24 was the second place advanced debater and Vanessa Guerra ’25 finished in third place. Hotchkiss swept the Individual Impromptu category, with Ben in first, Peter Berlizov ’24 in second, and Isaiah Stephens ’25 in third. Hotchkiss debate pairs also swept the advanced debate pair category, with Parth Jain ’24 and Vanessa in first, Ben and Jacob Zweiback ’24 in second, and Peter and Isaiah in third.

The two eight-person Hotchkiss teams finished in first and second in the overall school category, with the team of Ben, Jacob, Peter, Isaiah, Shaye, Isabella, Teo, and Julian in first, and Parth, Vanessa, Maadhavan Prasanna ’25, Max Salzinger ’25, Serena Thompson ’27, Oliver Smales ’27, Emma Liu ’27, and Sofia Clark ’27 finishing in second.

While Ben and Peter would have qualified for the World Championships in Canberra in April with their performances today, they have both already received invitations (read about Ben's qualification below). The invitation to Worlds during the Hotchkiss home tournament went to a debater from Deerfield Academy. Ben’s individual victory on Sunday means that five different Hotchkiss debaters have been the top speakers at all five of the Debating Association of New England Independent Schools (DANEIS) events held this year. This was the fourth straight tournament at which Hotchkiss finished with best overall record.

The team’s success Sunday was especially satisfying because of the depth the team showed.  All 16 debaters contributed to the first- and second-place finishes. Five of the advanced debaters finished in the top eight advanced and six of the novices finished in the top eight novice. The continued development of the new debaters shows their hard work and the guidance of their advanced teammates.

The team has a bit of a break before the debating and public speaking tournament at Buckingham Brown and Nichols School in Cambridge on Dec. 3. They will use that time practicing as well as preparing for the Yale Model United Nations in January.

Hotchkiss Speech and Debate Team

Bearcats celebrate their victory at the Hotchkiss speech and debate tournament on Oct. 29.



Hotchkiss debate team internationals

From left, Ben Who '24, Meilan Antonucci ’24, Coach David Conti, and Vanessa Guerra ’25 at the international competition in Canada.

Debaters Earn Trophies at International Competition; Ben Who '24 Qualifies for Worlds

Three members of the Hotchkiss Speech and Debate team traveled to Vancouver, Canada, to participate in the International Independent Schools Public Speaking Competition over four days from Oct. 19-22. Co-Captain Ben Who ’24 finished in second place among the 113 participants, earning an invitation to the World Championships for the second year in a row. Co-Captain Meilan Antonucci ’24 finished in fourth place overall. The team of Ben, Meilan, and Vanessa Guerra ’25 earned fourth place overall out of 36 teams from five countries.

In addition to his second-place overall finish, Ben was a finalist in all three events in which he competed. He finished as the champion in extemporaneous speaking (for the second year in a row) and in cross-examination debate. He was the second-place speaker in parliamentary debate.

Meilan also reached the finals in all three of his events and finished in first place with Ben in cross-examination.

The Vancouver competition, which took place over four days at the Crofton House School, provides valuable international experience of Hotchkiss debaters, allowing them to see different styles of speaking ahead of upcoming competitions. 

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