Wellington Debate News 2007-08

2008 NCFL "Grand Nationals" National Championships at Appleton, Wisconsin


For the third consecutive year, Wellington debaters advanced past preliminary rounds at the National Catholic Forensic League's "Grand Nationals" championships over Memorial Day weekend.
Junior Amanda DeStefano represented Wellington as one of five Palm Beach County legislators who advanced to the tournament's Super Congress finals. She was joined by fellow junior, and former Wellington debater, Shaina Sklar in the 24-member legislature.

2007-08 National Public Policy Forum - "Final Four"


The Wellington High School National Public Policy Forum Debate team was defeated in the first semifinal round by Colleyville Heritage (Texas), ending its bid to take home $10,000 and the coveted Bickel & Brewer Cup.
Taking place at New York University, Colleyville Heritage defeated the Wellington quartet of Chelsea Fitzgerald, Hayley Kolich, Raquel Kraushar and Michael Stechschulte on a 4-1 ballot. Wellington handled the negative side of the topic, whether the United States federal government should substantially increase its AIDS/HIV public health assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa.
Wellington did receive a $1,000 semifinal prize, with the four debaters (and two parental chaperones) receiving an all-expenses-paid weekend in New York by Bickel & Brewer.

2008 FFL Novice State Championships at Timber Creek, Orlando


Four first-year United States Extemporaneous debaters advanced to the semifinal round of competition at the 2008 FFL Novice State tournament.
Nick Brewer, Debra Gerrits, Michael Lebowitz and Michael Leon represented one-third of the semifinal participants in USX.

2008 NFL Panther District National Qualifier at Trinity Prep


Senior Kevin Sopczak advanced to finals in International Extemporaneous Speaking at the 2008 NFL national qualifier in Orlando. In addition, both William Fetzko and Kaila Kelly broke to the third round in Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking.

2008 PBCFL Grand Finals at Royal Palm Beach


The Wellington Debate and Forensic Team qualified eight members at the 2008 National Catholic Forensic League "Grand Nationals" championships in Appleton, Wisconsin this Memorial Day weekend.
Senior Sloan Shaffer qualified for a return visit to NCFL Nationals, but in a different event, Original Oratory; she qualified in Extemporaneous Speaking last year. She is the only Wellington debater who qualified for a repeat appearance at Grand Nationals.
In Student Congress, junior Amanda DeStefano advanced to the Wisconsin tournament, making it six years in a row Wellington will have a legislative presence at a national championship tournament.
Three sophomores will be competing in Declamation: Evan Baumel, Victoria Davy and Kodie-Ann Walcott. This is the first time since 2003 that Wellington has been represented at Grand Nationals in Declamation.
Three novice freshmen students will represent the Wolverines as well. In Dramatic Performance, Christine Simmons will compete. In addition, the Public Forum Debate team of Jeffrey Sall and Jeff Townsend will be in attendance.

2008 FFL Varsity State Championships at Niceville


Four Wellington debaters advanced beyond preliminary rounds at the 2008 FFL Varsity State Championships in Niceville. Amanda DeStefano represented Wellington in Super Congress, while Sloan Shaffer competed in the semifinal rounds of both International Extemporaneous Speaking and Original Oratory. In Public Forum, Hayley Kolich and Michael Stechschulte broke to quarterfinals.

2007-08 National Public Policy Forum


The Wellington High School National Public Policy Forum Debate team has advanced to the “Final Four” single-elimination round of the national debate tournament hosted by the Bickel & Brewer law firm.
Wellington’s team of Chelsea Fitzgerald, Hayley Kolich, Raquel Kraushar and Michael Stechschulte defeated Lakewood, Colorado on a 3-0 vote to advance to the Final Four. In doing so, the quartet received an all-expenses-paid trip to the April 25-27 finals at New York University, where they will compete against Colleyville Heritage High School (Texas) in the national semifinals. Wellington will handle the negative side of the topic, whether the United States federal government should substantially increase its AIDS/HIV public health assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa.
The winner of this round will go against either Kahuku High & Intermediate School (Hawaii) or Bellaire High School (Texas) After completing written and oral arguments, finalists are honored during a special banquet and awards ceremony. The Bickel & Brewer Foundation awards the winning team a $10,000 grand prize, presented in the form of individual cash awards for scholarships.
The NPPF is the only national contest that gives high school students the opportunity to participate in written and oral debates on issues of public policy. More than 100 high schools, representing 26 states, registered for the national competition. The NPPF annually involves more than 500 high school students.

2008 PBCFL at Palm Beach Central


At the Feb. 9 PBCFL at Palm Beach Central, Wellington scored three first-place finishes. Kevin Sopczak took first place in his Student Congress chamber, Alex Hernicz placed first overall (with a 4-0 record) in Lincoln Douglas Debate, and Evan Baumel took top honors in Declamation with his presentation of Barack Obama's Iowa victory speech.
Along with Sopczak, three other Congress legislators received honors. Sloan Shaffer took fifth in her House, while Derek Rubin and Kurt Burnett each placed sixth. Burnett was also recognized as his chamber's top presiding officer.
Mike Lebowitz took fourth in Extemporaneous Speaking, while Christine Simmons was fourth in Dramatic Performance. Samantha Gumas was seventh in DP.
Nick Brewer earned his NFL Degree of Merit certification, giving Wellington 203 total degrees.

2008 FFL Macaw Regional at Florida Atlantic University


Seven Wellington debaters qualified for the Florida Forensic League Varsity States championship in Nicevile at the 2008 Macaw Regional. Representing Wellington are Hayley Kolich and Michael Stechschulte in Public Forum Debate, Amanda DeStefano in Congress, Sloan Shaffer in both Original Oratory and International Extemporaneous Speaking, William Fetzko in US Extemporaneous Speaking, Christine Simmons and Samantha Gumas in Duo Interpretation, and Christine Simmons in Dramatic Interpretation. Samantha Gumas is 1st alternate in Humorous Interpretation, while Alex Hernicz is 2nd alternate in LD. In addition, Derek Rubin surpassed the 250-point NFL mark, achieving his Degree of Distinction.

2008 Barkley Forum at Emory


Senior Sloan Shaffer was the lone Wellington debater to break past preliminary rounds at the 2008 Barkley Forum for High School Students. By advancing to the quarterfinal round in Original Oratory, Shaffer ensured Wellington would have a student advance at Emory for the fourth consecutive year.

2008 PBCFL at Seminole Ridge


Thirteen Wellington students earned recognition for their accomplishments at the January 12 PBCFL debate tournament at Seminole Ridge High School.
In Extemporaneous Speaking, Wellington swept the top three places. Lee-Ann Jahore, Michael Leobwitz and Sloan Shaffer all took home honors in the impromptu political speaking event.
Wellington scored three additional first-place finishes. The team of Christine Simmons and Samantha Gumas took top honors in Duo Interpretation, while Student Congress legislators Amanda DeStefano and Chelsea Fitzgerald also placed first in their chambers.
Three other legislators also earned recognition in their Congress houses: Andrew Tuccinardi (3rd), Andrew Mittleman (5th) and William Fetzko (5th).
In Lincoln Douglas Debate, Alex Hernicz went 4-0 and placed second overall. In Novice Public Forum Debate, the team of Jeffrey Sall and Jack Townsend also went 4-0 and took second place.
Wellington earned eight new National Forensic League degrees, giving the program 199 for the year. Earning their NFL certificates and degrees of merit were Benji Copan, Josh Hyber, Tom Vernon and Anita Vicente. Reaching the Degree of Honor (75 points), and their varsity letters, were Alexa Boulanger, Jeffrey Sall and Jack Townsend.
Christine Simmons earned her Degree of Excellence, bypassing the 150-point plateau. Wellington's next tournament is January 18-20 at the Pine Crest "Crestian" Invitational in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton. Wellington is coached by Paul L. Gaba.

2007 PBCFL at Lake Worth


The Wellington Debate Team has wonderful success at the December 15 Palm Beach Catholic Forensic League's All-Novice tournament at Lake Worth High School, as seven first-year debaters earned recognition.
In Oral Interpretation, Christine Simmons took third place, while Student Congress legislator Andrew Mittleman also placed third in his chamber. Fellow legislator Kurt Burnett placed fifth and was awarded a gavel as his chamber's best presiding officer.
In Extemporaneous Speaking, Debra Gerrits placed fourth overall, while Michael Lebowitz was sixth in the event. The Public Forum Debate team of Jeffrey Sall and Jack Townsend placed sixth as well.
Narrowly missing on honors were Alexa Boulanger (7th in Lincoln Douglas Debate with a 3-1 record), the Duo Interpretation team of John McDonald and Stephanie Sullivan (7th), and Nicole Hoskens in Extemporaneous Speaking (8th).
Six debaters earned National Forensic League degrees over the weekend. Lebowitz, McDonald, Sullivan and Alex Small each surpassed the 25-point mark and earned their NFL Degree of Merit certificate, which will be placed on the debate room wall after it arrives. Senior Kevin Sopczak earned his Degree of Special Distinction by surpassing the 500-point mark via judging rounds. And Sloan Shaffer passed the 1,000-point plateau with her performances in Poetry live! and earned her Degree of Outstanding Distinction, becoming the 14th student in team history to achieve the mark.
Wellington's next tournament is the PBCFL at Seminole Ridge on January 12. It is the first of five straight debate weekends for Wellington.

2007 PBCFL at Dwyer


And here's the news from Dwyer on Saturday, November 10:
LINCOLN DOUGLAS DEBATE - Sophomore Alex Hernicz went 4-0 and placed second overall in varsity Lincoln Douglas Debate, while junior Alexa Boulanger went 4-0 and placed fourth in novice LD. Three other novices each scored at least one win in their first LD competition - Carly Druker, Morgan Montalbano and Taylor Montalbano - while a fourth novice first-time LDer, Lee Parker, was recognized as seventh-best overall speaker in the event.
PUBLIC FORUM DEBATE - The team of Derek Rubin and Alex Woolf placed sixth overall.
CONGRESS - Andrew Tuccinardi scored a first-place finish in his chamber, narrowly beating out teammate Will Fetzko in his chamber. Fetzko did bring home a gavel as the chamber's best presiding officer. Amanda DeStefano also placed first overall in her legislative chamber. In addition, Pablo Palomino was fifth in his Senate, while Haley Passeser took sixth place.
EXTEMPORANEOUS SPEAKING - Sloan Shaffer took first-place honors, while Lee-Ann Jahore was fourth overall.
DECLAMATION - Kodie-Ann Walcott placed second overall with her rendition of Will Ferrell's Harvard Commencement Address.
VARSITY ORAL INTERPRETATION - Novice Christine Simmons placed second overall in the varsity event.
NEW NFL MEMBERSHIPS AND DEGREES - Two students - Evan Baumel and Andrew Tuccinardi - each earned advanced National Forensic League degrees. Six other students - Alexa Boulanger, Nicole Hoskens, Michael McCarthy, Andrew Mittleman, Lee Parker and Jack Townsend - each earned their NFL Degree of Merit.

2007-08 National Public Policy Forum - Part 1


Wellington High School’s National Public Policy Forum team of Chelsea Fitzgerald, Hayley Kolich, Raquel Kraushar and Michael Stechschulte have advanced to the "Sweet 16" in the 2007 Bickel & Brewer National Public Policy Forum national debate tournament. Wellington's next opponent is Bronx Science of New York.
Wellington is one of two Florida schools in the Sweet 16, the other being two-time defending NPPF champion Dreyfoos School of the Arts.
The top 16 schools (out of 105 entries) were seeded and matched for competition accordingly.
The National Public Policy Forum is the only national contest that gives high school students the opportunity to participate in written and oral debates on issues of public policy. Hundreds of high school students participate each year, competing for more than $25,000 in awards and scholarships, an all-expense-paid trip to New York City and the "Bickel & Brewer Cup."

2007 Florida Blue Key, Gainesville


At the 2007 Florida Blue Key Invitational, the Public Forum Debate team of Hayley Kolich and Michael Stechschulte advanced to the semifinal round in PFD, while the senior team of Chelsea Fitzgerald and Raquel Kraushar went 5-1 in prelims before bowing out in the octofinal round.
In Student Congress, senior Kevin Sopczak and junior Amanda DeStefano advanced to the semifinal round. DeStefano also earned a gavel for her role as PO in preliminary rounds. In Impromptu Speaking, senior Sloan Shaffer took fourth place overall.

2007 PBCFL at Jupiter


The Wellington High School Debate Team dominated the competition at Jupiter High School Saturday, Oct. 13 during the first multiple-event Palm Beach Catholic Forensic League Tournament.
Eight Wolverine debaters scored first-place finishes at the competition. Sophomore Alex Hernicz went 4-0, taking top honors in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, where students presented philosophical arguments on the justice of capital punishment.
In Public Forum Debate, where the topic centered on endorsement of a soft partition of Iraq, the team of senior Hayley Kolich and Michael Stechschulte also went 4-0, placing first overall.
In Novice Duo Interpretation, the freshman pair of Samantha Gumas and Christine Simmons not only took first place in presenting an 10-minute-long excerpt of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple (For Women), but ranked first overall in each of their four rounds. Two Student Congress legislators placed first in their respective chambers: freshman Benjamin Aqua (Novice Congress) and Amanda DeStefano (Varsity Congress). And junior Michael Leon placed first overall in Novice Extemporaneous Speaking, narrowly edging teammate Nicole Hoskens, who placed second in the event.
In Public Forum Debate, the team of seniors Chelsea Fitzgerald and Raquel Kraushar placed fourth overall, also finishing with an unblemished 4-0 record. In Novice Student Congress, Andrew Mittleman placed second in his house, while Michael McCarthy was fifth in his chamber.
In Varsity Congress, William Fetzko and Kevin Sopczak placed fourth and fifth respectively and Kodie-Ann Walcott took home a gavel as her chamber’s choice presiding officer.
In Varsity Extemporaneous Speaking, senior Sloan Shaffer placed fourth, while sophomore Charlie Burke was sixth.
Other highlights include impressive performances by junior novice Linda Valentin in Oral Interpretation, sophomore Angela Whitehead in Dramatic Performance and junior Derek Rubin in Lincoln-Douglas Debate. In addition, novice Lincoln-Douglas Debater junior Alexa Boulanger and the novice Public Forum team of freshmen Jeffrey Sall and Jack Townsend each went 2-2 in their first foray in their respective events.
Wellington earned seven new National Forensic League degrees of achievement as a result of the tournament. Sophomore Lee-Ann Jahore passed the 250-point plateau, earning her Degree of Distinction. Angela Whitehead surpassed the 150-point mark, receiving her Degree of Excellence.
Kodie-Ann Walcott earned her Degree of Honor and her varsity debate letter by reaching 75 NFL points. And by reaching 25 points, four novice debaters earned their degrees of merit: Benjamin Aqua, Kurt Burnett, Michael Leon and Jeffrey Sall. Wellington now has 170 NFL degrees on record and is in excellent shape to achieve the NFL’s "200 Club" for the ninth time in 10 years, and the sixth time in Coach Paul L. Gaba's six years with the program.

2007 Gregg Phifer Invitational at Florida State University


The Wellington High School Debate and Forensic Team enjoyed amazing success at the first-ever Gregg Phifer Invitational Debate Tournament on the campus of Florida State University the weekend of Sept. 28-30, as seven students were recognized for their hard work and abilities.
First-year debater Christine Simmons took home two awards, including first place overall in the Prose Interpretation category. Simmons also placed fifth in Poetry Interpretation.
Senior Sloan Shaffer also brought home two awards: second place overall in Impromptu Speaking and third place in Extemporaneous Speaking.
In Student Congress, all three Wellington legislators advanced to the "Super Congress" finals. Junior William Fetzko placed second, junior Amanda DeStefano placed third and senior Kevin Sopczak placed fifth in the event.
In Public Forum Debate, the team of seniors Hayley Kolich and Alex Woolf placed second overall, falling in the final round in a 2-1 decision.

2007 PBCFL All-Congress at Martin County


At the Saturday, Sept. 15 Palm Beach Catholic Forensic League "All-Congress" at Martin County High School, six Wellington debaters were recognized for their success. Senior Kevin Sopczak placed first overall in his varsity Senate chamber, while Hayley Kolich was second in her varsity Senate. Sopczak, Kolich and DeStefano also earned "Chamber's Choice" gavels as best presiding officers in their respective legislative houses. In addition, freshman Jeffrey Sall was third in his novice House, junior William Fetzko was fourth in his varsity Senate and freshman Alex Small placed sixth in his novice chamber.

2007 Winter Springs Invitational


The 2007-08 Wellington Debate and Forensic Team's season opened up with plenty of success at the 2007 Winter Springs Invitational September 8-9.
Three students advanced to the final round in their events. In International Extemporaneous Speaking, Sloan Shaffer took fifth place overall. Both Amanda DeStefano and Michael Stechschulte represented Wellington in the tournament's Super Congress.
In Public Forum Debate, the team of Chelsea Fitzgerald and Raquel Kraushar went 4-1 and were the Number 3 seed following preliminary rounds. They advanced to the semifinal round, finishing with a record of 6-2. In addition, the PFD team of Hayley Kolich and Kassie Shearouse advanced to the quarterfinal round, giving Wellington two of the top eight teams at Winter Springs.
Lincoln Douglas debater Alex Hernicz went 3-2 in prelims and also advanced to his quarterfinal round, making him one of the top eight LD students. Derek Rubin, a transfer from Palm Beach Central, was recognized as one of the top 10 speakers in LD.
First-year debater Christine Simmons advanced to the semifinal round in Oral Interpretation, an event which involves presentations of poetry and prose selections. Christine was one of only two novices to advance past preliminary rounds.
Three students earned National Forensic League degrees through their performances. Kassie Shearouse earned the first degree that can be earned, her Degree of Merit, by surpassing 25 overall NFL points. Rubin earned his Degree of Honor by passing the 75-point mark, and thus will receive his Wellington Varsity Debate letter at the spring banquet. Alex Hernicz passed the 250-point plateau, earning his NFL Degree of Distinction.