After eight months of preparation, research and single-elimination competition with teams from around the world, the Hamilton High School debate team has advanced to the Elite 8 of the Brewer Foundation/NYU International Public Policy Forum and will battle for the title in New York City, April 1-3.
The Brewer Foundation/NYU International Public Policy Forum is the only contest giving high school students the opportunity to engage in written and oral debates on public policy.
Hamilton High School team members are seniors Iris Chang, 17, and Molly Chou, 17; and juniors Vignesh Viswanath, 16; Mani Kandan, 17; and Rahul Ramesh, 16. Chang, Chou, Viswanath, Ramesh and Chou live in Chandler. Kandan lives in Gilbert.
The research process began last July for a qualifying essay the students submitted in October along with more than 300 other teams. Judges culled the list to 64 teams for three written debates leading to the championship round in New York. Teams reaching the Elite 8 earn expense-paid trips to the finals.
Teams responded to the topic, “Resolved: Genetically modified organisms are essential to global food security,” through 2,800-word written essays during the three competitive rounds. When in New York, three Hamilton students will respond to the same topic through five-minute speeches. Other team members will “be watching our team and scouting the others,” Chou explained.
Team members have not yet determined who will be giving the speeches. A Hamilton High School team won the championship in 2014.
“We are super stoked,” Chang said.
“I feel really excited and happy that all of our hard work paid off,” Viswanath added.
In New York, the team will attend an event Friday, April 1 at the new World Trade Center. Competition is scheduled all day Saturday at the Harold Pratt House, a mansion built in 1920 for oil industrialist and philanthropist Harold I. Pratt that has been the home for the Council on Foreign Relations since 1929.
Teams also will be vying for a $10,000 cash prize ($5,000 for the winning school and $5,000 for the team). The runner-up team will receive $3,500 and teams qualifying for the Final Four receive $1,500.
The students will be traveling with two Hamilton High School teachers.
For more information about the Brewer Foundation/NYU International Public Policy Forum, visit www.ippfdebate.com or follow updates on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
For more information about Chandler Hamilton High School, visit www.mychandlerschools.org/domain/2039.