PHS Debate Team Competes During School Day Competition Against Local High Schools

Carter Hancock, Paper Clip Staff/Writer

Friday, May 19, the Portsmouth High School debate team hosted and competed against teams from Spaulding High School, St. Thomas Aquinas and Oyster River High School through four rounds of debate over the topic: Resolved: That the U.S should substantially increase investment in high speed rail. 


Debate competitions usually happen once a month on Saturdays, which makes it unusual that this competition was held during regularly scheduled classes. The reason for the timing is that this debate happens once a year, allowing the debate kids to highlight what they have been working on this entire school year. 


Reflecting on the effort and year of the PHS debate team, Joseph Kraus, the debate team advisor and PHS English teacher, said, “The students had a great experience, sharing their accomplishments and knowledge with Portsmouth High School and the community.”


The debate team prepared both sides of the topic, and worked together for the past few weeks to strengthen their arguments. According to Georgia Parrott, a ninth grade student on the debate team, this topic was previously discussed this year by the PHS debate team, allowing their knowledge base to increase.


This in-school debate was judged by teachers, whole classes of students, administrators, city council members, the assistant mayor, and other staff. The debate teams traveled around the school competing in classrooms, being able to display their debate skills to students.


“This debate was a great opportunity for the team to really show its skills and what debate is about,” said Marlon Pinto, a PHS junior and debate team member. “With most debates comprising of just parents and debate coaches, to be able to present to teachers and city officials was an amazing experience that I won’t forget.”


There is only one category for debates, the team category which competes in pairs, but there are awards given to individual speakers. The first place winners of the team category went to Marlon Pinto and Mariam Nada, from PHS.


Within the team category, the second place spot went to Charlie Anderson (10th grade) and Isobel Horowitz (10th), both from PHS. Third place went to Ty Wyman, a high school student from Spaulding, who competed individually.


The other debate awards go to individual speakers. First place for the individual speakers went to Nikko Koukis, a junior at PHS, Nada (11th grade) came in second, and third place was Pinto (11th grade).


Over Memorial Day weekend,  the debate team finished their year at Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky. This is the PHS debate teams fourth year at Nationals, which means they have qualified 4 times in a row for this competition. 


Charlie Anderson, Isobel Horowitz, Ian Franas, and Aadit Noble all competed in Nationals. They competed against three hundred and ninety eight schools, which is about two thousand and sixty nine people. Franas and Noble went 1 in 4, Anderson and Horowitz went 2 and 3.


For more information on the debate team please visit Mr. Kraus in room 204 or email @[email protected].



Photo donated by Joseph Kraus