The New York Parliamentary Debate League’s first tournament of the year took place at Horace Mann on October 6. Though the Horace Mann Introductory Parliamentary Debate Invitational (HMPI) was geared towards novice participants, the tournament still attracted more teams than ever before for an NYPDL event, with 46 teams from 11 schools. Many of the league’s more experienced parliamentary debate veterans judged rounds instead of competing.

The NYPDL is unique among established parliamentary debate leagues not only because of its location on the East Coast, but also due to its structure. Run as a collaboration between three New York City schools – Horace Mann, Dalton, and Stuyvesant – the league functions without the help of adult staff. All location preparation, registration, and tabbing is conducted solely by the league’s executive director, Horace Mann’s Radhika Mehta, and a small staff of student volunteers. 

This was also the first NYPDL tournament to attract teams from outside of New York State, with Connecticut and New Jersey represented for the first time. The tournament began with a half-hour long novice training session which was attended by around sixty of the participants, most of whom had never previously debated in a competitive round.

As an introduction to parliamentary debate, the tournament was a success. “[It was] an awesome way to introduce freshmen from across the Tri-State area to parli,” said Dalton’s Grant Gordon, a member of the NYPDL’s executive committee and a judge at the tournament. 

As the league begins its second year in operation, Mehta is focusing on growth. “We went from three schools to more than ten...three [of which] didn’t even have teams before this tournament,” she said. “And we have 21 schools that are interested in joining the league this year.” 

The tournament’s tab director, Horace Mann’s George Loewenson, agreed that HMPI shows just how far the league has come. “Three years ago the league didn’t exist,” he said. “Now we have enough debaters for novice tournaments.” Of course, the goal of the tournament was to help novices debate at a higher level. Loewenson said that the participants made vast strides as the tournament progressed. “The judges kept talking about the improvement they saw [going from] rounds one to three.”

After three rounds, the last power-matched based on the results of the first round, Ridgefield’s Namita Kalghatgi & Tanvi Namjoshi finished as the top 3-0 team. High School of American Studies’ Stephan Dames & Charlotte Ritz-Jack finished in second place. They were followed by three Ridgefield pairs – Vikram Agrawal & Udheesh Gaddipati, Kevin Tang & Daphne Tang, and Emily Wang & Katherine Wang – to round out the top 5. Kalghatgi & Namjoshi also took home the top two speaker awards.

After near-record participation at the Yale Invitation and an influx of new schools starting teams, the region’s next tournament at Vassar should surely show off how much the region has improved in the past year. “This tournament shows the muscle of the East Coast circuit,” said Loewenson. 

Our East Coast correspondents are Haven Hunt, who debates for Immaculate High School, Paul Kim, who debates for Ridgefield High School, and Hart Rapaport, who debates for the Dalton School.