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There No Debate! UAIS Students Dominate State Forensics Tournament

Utica Academy for International Studies students had eight top individual honors at the recent Legislative Debate State Tournament, with senior Josh Barthel earning the state championship.

Only one thing was not subject for discussion at the annual Michigan Interscholastic Forensics Association tournament - Utica Academy for International Studies students are among the state's best debators.

UAIS students had eight top individual honors at the recent Legislative Debate State Tournament, with senior Josh Barthel earning the state championship.

"This culminated a great year that saw many successes and helped solidify a highly competitive foundation for a program that is only in its third year of competition," said UAIS theatre arts teacher and debate coach Chris Kuhlman.

The tournament, held january 14 at Calvin College, allows students to compete in two opening rounds of competition in which students debate legislation that has been written by various debaters from across the state. 

Within various chambers, students give speeches and debate in a congressional style following parliamentary procedure.  At the end of the first two rounds, the top 20 debaters are selected based on total rank within chambers and points earned. 

This top group then progresses to the Super Session in which they debate on a final docket of legislation and attempt to be the best debater of the tournament.

When the entire three levels of debate ended, Barthel was named overall State Champion by tournament judges.

"Josh came into the year with the single objective of being State champ, and, on his road to the State tournament, Josh proceeded to place first at every major debate tournament of the season," Kuhlman said.

In addition, seven UAIS students qualified for the Super Session between the Varsity and Novice levels. At the varsity level, UAIS comprised 25 percent of the chamber with its five qualifying members.

Other UAIS awarded included:

  • Novice - 7th  place, Alec Franks, 6th place, Katy Surhigh. 
  • Varsity – 18th place-Michael Snider, 17th place-Emma Haidar, 11th place-Danny Gougeon, and 8th place-Marysa Sutton.

Zach Betthauser, a UAIS team member who was unable to attend the tournament, won a special award for the best bill of the tournament as voted on by all the coaches.

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