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Debate 1 and 2 become quarter-long classes to accommodate an influx of student sign-ups

The Marlborough debate team smiles for the camera after their first week of practice.  
From back row to front, left to right: Julianne ’22, Reese ‘24, Helena ’23, Jocelyn ‘23, Macy ’22, Shaye ’25, Margalit ’25, Adam Torson. Row 2: Jina  ’23, Penelope’25, Siena ’25, Zoe ’25. Front row: Francesca ’25, Mattie ’25. Photo courtesy of Ela ’24

Sign-ups for Marlborough’s Debate 1 class more than doubled this year, with 44 students signed up for the class, which has led to structural changes in the middle school debate program to accommodate more students. 

In the past, there has been one section of Debate 1 in the first semester, which is designed to introduce middle school students to debate, and one section of Debate 2 in the second semester, to continue to build students’ debate skills. However, this year both Debate 1 and Debate 2 have been split into quarter-long classes rather than semester-long classes. Debate Coach and Program Head Adam Torson will teach one section of Debate 1 and one section of Debate 2 in the first quarter, and two sections of Debate 1 in the second quarter.

“I’m a true believer in the value of debate, so I’m thrilled to have so many more students participating in the program,” Torson said. “It makes administering the program more challenging, but that challenge is worth it to bring in all the great people to add to our team. It means that we need to redouble our efforts to ensure that everyone feels seen and connected to their teammates, and like they have a home in Marlborough Debate.”

One factor that contributed to the growth of the program is the welcoming nature of the debate team. 

“Debate students are kind and welcoming, feel a close bond to one another and are anxious to pass on what they have learned to the next generation of Marlborough debaters,” Torson said. “I feel incredibly lucky to get to work with such high character students, and the culture they have built leads to more students joining and more students sticking with it.” 

Another factor that influenced an influx of students to join the program is the important skills acquired through debate, such as public speaking, research and critical thinking. 

“I am excited to learn to be more outspoken and voice my opinions clearly in front of other people,” Zoe ’26 said. 

Some students also joined the program to build their confidence, try new activities, and make new friends. 

“I decided to join the debate program at Marlborough because I’d like to go out of my comfort zone and learn something I’ve never learned before. I’m most excited about making new friends, as I am going into a new school with new people,” Jean ’27 said. 

With more students signed up for Debate 1, Torson is excited for the future of the debate team at Marlborough. He plans to implement new practice routines, teach new argumentative strategies, and continue to make changes to the program as more students join the team. Students are also excited about getting involved in the debate program. 

“I’m a true believer in the value of debate, so I’m thrilled to have so many more students participating in the program,” Torson said. “It makes administering the program more challenging, but that challenge is worth it to bring in all the great people to add to our team.” 

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