This past Saturday, the Seawolf Debate Program was proud to partner with Goldenview Middle School to host the second Anchorage Middle School Public Debate Program (MSPDP) tournament of the year. A team from Romig Middle School won the invitational prevailing as the best of the nearly 60 middle school debaters present. The same team won the first tournament of the year in October, making them two for two this season.
The motion for the final round asked students to consider whether or not the State of Alaska should raise the minimum enrollment requirement for state funding for schools to 20 students. The topic for debate was drawn directly from proposals made by Rep. Lynn Gattis (R-Wasilla) to change the enrollment threshold in order to cut costs in the state budget. Students were provided the topic in advance and under the guidance of their teachers and coaches researched the makeup of Alaska schools, state budget climate, and arguments for and against the proposal.
The Seawolf Debate Program piloted the Anchorage MSPDP in 2011 with only three middle schools. Since then the initiative has grown to include nine participating schools with roughly 60 middle school students at each tournament. New to the program this year are Romig Middle School, Colony Middle School and Wendler Middle School. Each invitational features four preliminary rounds of competition that lead up to a semifinal and final round. Students tackle tough subjects such as right-to-die legislation, the morality of sports hunting and jus soli citizenship. Representatives from the participating middle schools will be invited to UAA for a one-day competition that will crown the inaugural Anchorage MSPDP Champions in late April. The next invitational will be hosted by Girdwood Middle School on Feb. 27.
This initiative fits well with the Seawolf Debate Program’s other efforts to promote academic debating. With programs like the Alaska High School Drama, Debate and Forensics Championships hosted each year by UAA and the Cabin Fever Debates, an intramural debating tournament for UAA students not active on the Seawolf competitive debating team, the middle school initiative will provide a continuous track for students interested in debating from sixth grade through their graduation from UAA.