Grady, Douglass high schools make strong showing at national urban debate tournament

Representatives from both Grady and Douglass high schools showed off their abilities and earned scholarship money at the National Association for Urban Debate League’s (NAUDL) third annual Chase Urban Debate National Championship. The National Championship, held April 22-25 at the Chase Conference Centers in New York City, was sponsored by Chase and the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation.

Students from Grady and Douglass were among 75 students competing for the title of Chase Urban Debate National Champion. Jamba Juice provided $10,000 in student and team scholarship money to the top individual speakers and debate champions.

Grady junior Michael Barlow (pictured, at left) and sophomore Holden Choi made it to the semifinals. (Barlow, you may recall, was featured in the spring issue of The Atlanta Educator.) Both debaters were additionally recognized for their individual speaking skill, with Barlow earning the third place speaker award and a $750 scholarship from Jamba Juice. Choi earned the ninth place speaker award. Douglass’ De Angelo Bowie was the other representative from the Atlanta Urban Debate League.

“They’re both such outstanding debaters,” said Grady’s coach, Lisa Willoughby, a 25-year veteran of this competition.

According to a press release from the National Urban Debate League, “Recent research on the Chicago Debate League from the University of Michigan and Virginia Commonwealth University demonstrates the educational impact of competitive policy debate. Debate participants are three times less likely to drop out of high school. They score 15 percentile points higher in the Reading and English sections of the ACT than their non-debating peers. The research also found that urban debaters are 50 percent more likely to achieve the ACT college readiness benchmarks in English and show a 20- to 50-percent rise in their GPA’s (
“Urban debate especially enhances the educational achievement of students of color,” the release continues. “African-American male debaters graduate from high school at a rate of 70 percent, compared to 44 percent for their non-debater peers in the study, and are twice as likely to reach the ACT college readiness benchmark in English and 70 percent more likely to reach the benchmark in reading.”

For more on the Grady team, visit the Web site at Hat tip to Ms. Willoughby for helping supply this information. Come back to Talk Up APS next week for more information on the Grady mock trial team’s impressive performance at nationals!

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