The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

Marlborough School Student Newspaper
The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

Debate wins of 23-24

Adam Torson Contributing Photographer

This year, Marlborough’s debate team has experienced unprecedented success in the Lincoln-Douglas style of debate, which is a one-on-one competition format. The team has won numerous awards, tournaments and invitations to the nation’s most prestigious competitions, such as the Tournament of Champions (TOC) and the National Debate Coaches Association Championship.

In order to be invited to the TOC, each student must win two bids, which are earned by advancing deep into elimination rounds during the tournaments. This year, Marlborough has more bids than any other team who participates in the Lincoln-Douglas debate with a total of 30, meaning Marlborough secured 26% of all of the bids in the competition. Out of the two schools that qualified more than two students for the competition, Marlborough exceeded the minimum and was able to send six.

“Our students work incredibly hard and are dedicated to thinking critically and rigorously about the issues presented by our topics,” Debate Coach and Program Head Adam Torson said. “This year we have a historically strong class of seniors who are both extremely skilled but who are also dedicated to supporting their younger teammates, and the net effect is a lot of competitive success.”

Marlborough also had 16 students qualify for the National Debate Coaches Association Championship. To achieve this, Marlborough debaters had to acquire a specific number of qualifying points, which are accumulated in debate competitions throughout the year.

“I like to define ‘success’ for the debate team in terms of our educational mission, to help students become thoughtful people and citizens,” Torson said. “The debaters show outstanding dedication to those values, with our older students leading the way by being excellent role models.”

In a broader context, the success of this year’s debate cycle has surpassed anything the debate team has accomplished in the past. Though Torson maintains that the relative success of each year ebbs and flows, the program has seen tremendous growth in enrollment through recent years.

Margalit Salkin ’25, a current member of the debate team, remembers trying to get her friends to join the program just so the program could continue during her 7th-grade year.

“Now pretty much every 7th grader is taking the Intro to Debate class,” Salkin said. “Mr. Torson has even had to stop teaching all the classes because his hands are so full teaching debate, and we have somewhere around 60 people officially on the team right now.”

Salkin and Torson both attribute the sudden spurt in popularity to the strong team culture. Older members of the team are dedicated to helping younger students develop their skills and learn helpful techniques. Salkin also credits Torson for making the team a welcoming place for new members to feel supported throughout tournaments and practices.

“Debate culture can be really competitive with people prioritizing winning over everything, and my favorite part about the Marlborough debate team is we care more about being good people than winning,” Salkin said.

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