Local team advances to 'Sweet 16' of debate contest

January 6, 2009 4:32:43 PM PST
Bellaire High School is once again one step closer to winning a $10,000 grand prize in the Bickel & Brewer/New York University National Public Policy Forum (NPPF). The Bellaire debaters have advanced to the "Sweet 16" round of this international contest -- the only contest in the nation that gives high school students the opportunity to participate in written and oral debates on issues of public policy. Bellaire won the 2007-2008 competition.

By advancing to the round of 16, the Bellaire debaters remain eligible to win not only the $10,000 grand prize, but also an all-expenses-paid trip to the finals in New York City.

"The Bellaire High School debate team has joined select company," says William A. Brewer III, partner at Bickel & Brewer and founder of the NPPF. "The team is one of the final 16 in a debate competition that has attracted participants from all over the world."

More than 100 schools -- representing 14 foreign countries and 32 states -- entered the 2008-2009 NPPF competition by submitting qualifying round essays on the topic, "Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase alternative energy incentives in the United States." The competition annually involves more than 700 students.

The top 32 essays were chosen, and those schools engaged in a series of one-on-one individual written debate competitions. Schools volleyed papers back and forth, arguing in the affirmative or negative on the public policy topic. Judges reviewed the papers in the order they were received and voted for the winning school from each individual competition. The top 16 schools now advance and continue in this progressive, single-elimination written debate tournament. With its win against Trinity High School in Pennsylvania, Bellaire High School now competes against The Durham Academy in Durham, North Carolina.

The final four schools will be announced in March. Those schools will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the April 17-19, 2009, NPPF Finals at New York University. After completing written and oral arguments, finalists will be honored during a special banquet and awards ceremony. The Bickel & Brewer Foundation will also award the winning team a $10,000 grand prize and the "Bickel & Brewer Cup."

The NPPF was founded by the Bickel & Brewer Foundation in 2001, and is now jointly administered with New York University. The program is available to all high schools -- public and private -- for free. Since its inception, the NPPF has awarded more than $600,000 in support of forensic activities at the secondary school and collegiate levels. The NPPF is endorsed by leading forensic agencies such as the National Forensic League, National Association of Urban Debate Leagues, and the International Debate Education Association.

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