Barstow Debate had a sensational first semester of tournament competition that included winning two varsity policy debate tournaments in the same weekend and earning two bids to the acclaimed Tournament of Champions (TOC).
The upper school squad won 162 rounds of debate, had a 63% winning percentage and took home 36 awards at five tournaments. The middle school team won 32 awards at two tournaments and placed first and second in overall team sweepstakes.
“I am incredibly proud of our students, their work ethic and our tremendous competitive results,” said first-year head coach Gabe Cook. “Team unity has been integral to our success and driven by an amazing senior class.”
The Barstow debate team competes in the most challenging style of debate: national circuit policy debate. It requires extensive coaching and volumes of up-to-date research. Most schools that accept the challenge of this brand of debate have 10-12 students on the team. This year’s Barstow team has 36 upper school competitors, and the middle school squad has 32. Managing such a large squad and meeting student needs is a welcome challenge for Barstow’s coaching staff. In addition to Mr. Cook, Barstow has a new assistant coach this year, Lucia Scott.
"It's been a great first semester coaching at Barstow,” said Ms. Scott. “I've seen such a large group of dedicated young debaters all united towards a singular purpose." 
Scott leads the varsity debaters, and Cook said they have quickly grown to adore and respect her. He said the combined efforts of students and coaches have put Barstow closer to reaching a very difficult goal — getting multiple teams qualified to the TOC. Barstow has three senior teams that have been working towards that goal their entire debate careers.
The TOC is the most prestigious high school championship tournament in the country. To qualify, students must earn two bids by advancing to and winning elimination debates at two TOC certified tournaments. The teams of Sam Short and Taha Fanaswala and Robbie Putney and Shaunak Lokre have each earned one bid to the TOC, and they did so on the same weekend at two different tournaments. Short and Fanaswala won the Iowa Caucus, while Putney and Lokre won the Heritage Hall tournament. Kristin Tingle and Tyler Durwood have been close to earning bids, and all of these seniors will have opportunities to earn their way to the TOC next semester.
“Since my freshman year, Barstow debate has become an incredibly close group of amazing people, and I couldn’t be more grateful for them and for our coaches,” Tingle said. “After our last semester of bids and big wins, I look forward to an even more successful second semester! Go Fight Win.”
Ariza Nanji, senior, says debate has helped her grow as a student and as a person.
“This activity has forever changed me and for that I’m so thankful. The squad is a family. I am so happy to have found a community of driven and kindhearted people.”
The future of Barstow debate also looks strong. The novice duo of Avisha Pandey and Faizan Khalid placed first at the KCKCC tournament, third at Heritage Hall — and even competed up a division by entering Junior Varsity at The Glenbrooks Tournament in Illinois. Competing against students with more experience, they managed to win five of seven debates at the largest regular-season speech and debate tournament in the country.
The middle school team impressed as well. The team placed second in overall sweepstakes points at the Arrowhead Tournament and captured first place at the Patton Tournament. The team won 32 awards first semester, a number that would have been higher if snow had not canceled a third tournament. Next semester, competition culminates with the DEBATE-KC City Championship the last weekend of February.
Julia Butch, senior, has words of encouragement for underclassmen who will continue Barstow debate’s winning tradition.
“Debate is an incredible activity, which combines the best aspects of argumentation, solution crafting and teamwork. It provides opportunities to research pressing issues and fosters exposure to multiple different perspectives. There is really no other activity like it.” 

The Barstow School

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