On March 18, the Berkeley High School Invitational culminated in a final round between Los Altos’s Jodie Bhattacharya & Javin Pombra and Campolindo’s Brigitte Jia & Anna Jiang, both teams undefeated in preliminary rounds. 

Debating the resolution, “Mandatory busing of U.S. public school students ought to be resumed," Bhattacharya & Pombra triumphed on a 3-2 decision. Because of the close competition for speaker points, Lowell’s Emily Moon & James Sutton and Los Altos’s Ryan Lee & Alex Wong did not advance to the final round despite also emerging from preliminary rounds with 4-0 records.

 Bhattarcharya, Pombra, Jia, and Jiang pose with trophies after the final round. (Left to right)

Bhattarcharya, Pombra, Jia, and Jiang pose with trophies after the final round. (Left to right)

The one-day invitational was a debut tournament for Berkeley High's speech and debate team. Efficient paper ballot organization helped accommodate four preliminary rounds and one final debate, and the tournament finished an hour ahead of schedule.

“The students and parents of Berkeley High were delighted to host our first tournament,” said tournament director Joel Jacobs, “It's something we've been wanting to do for a while, and we were thrilled to be able to offer the tournament to the Bay Area parli community, a community that has meant so much to our team.”

In addition to maintaining timeliness, Berkeley High made conscious efforts to limit the influence of biases regarding gender, race, sexual orientation, or any identity, by designating an equity officer as well as featuring an anonymous box for tournament participants to submit concerns. Equity officer Emma Barton said that her position was implemented as “a proactive measure to ensure that the tournament, and debate as a whole to the degree that we can influence, is an inclusive place that is as accessible to as many people as possible. We do not want anyone to feel unsafe, uncomfortable, or unwelcome.” Additionally, the trophies featured a female figure to emphasize the majority female participation.

Meanwhile, the novice division featured a finals showdown between undefeated teams El Cerrito’s Mela Seyoum & Ana Tourriel and Campolindo’s Angad Chimni & Max Schultz on the same resolution. Seyoum & Tourriel prevailed on a 3-0 decision.

Speaker awards were given to the top two speakers in each division. In the open division, Menlo-Atherton’s Dmitry Goltsev and Campolindo’s Kyle Wu received top honors. In novice, Aptos’s Jame Walton and champion Mela Seyoum took first and second.


Los Altos Jodie Bhattacharya & Javin Pombra def. Campolindo Brigitte Jia & Anna Jiang (3-2)

Tournament results can be found here.

Our Northern California correspondents are Shannon Bonet, who debates for Campolindo High School, and Emily Her, who debates for Dougherty Valley High School.