Success Academy scholars have a lot of strong opinions about STEM education — and it turns out they’re pretty good at expressing them! On Saturday, January 20, Success Academy Harlem North Central won first place in the Advanced Section at a tournament hosted by the Newark Debate Academy. Forty SA scholars from schools throughout the network traveled to Newark, New Jersey, to participate in the debate.
We spoke with Delaney Hellman, SA Harlem North Central’s policy debate coach, who told us why she’s proud of her scholars’ big win — and why she’s especially excited about what February holds for her team:
My policy debaters at SA Harlem North Central have made such amazing progress. At their first tournament of the year they lost nearly every round and ever since, they’ve just wanted to get better. Now they spend so much time after school collaborating and using shared class messaging boards to bounce argument ideas off of each other. Policy debate involves conducting in-depth research on one topic and then, within the course of the debate, introducing and defending a policy to address an issue. In this tournament, the topic was STEM education.
Scholars debated for three rounds on either the affirmative side or negative side. Affirmative arguments put forth a policy that promotes STEM education, while the negative side must prove that the policy will be harmful to the status quo. On the affirmative side, scholars proposed that improving teacher education was the key to a robust STEM education program. On the negative side, scholars employed the biopower theory by social theorist Michel Foucault about the existence of racist power structures to explain why STEM education was not the key to quality education reform. They posited that institutionalized racism within educational funding formulas prevents STEM funding from reaching students of color and would therefore be harmful to society.
It’s so rewarding to watch our scholars explore these powerful arguments and discover their voices. After my scholars started to debate policy, they’ve begun to read and dissect the news — and a few of them participated in women’s marches in New York City! Debate gives them an outlet to discuss and articulate their grievances and express themselves.
I’m also very excited for next month — my scholars at SA Harlem North Central will join debaters from several other SA middle schools and head to a high school debate tournament hosted at Harvard University! They’ll compete against some of the best debate talent from around the world.”
Here’s how all our scholars did in Newark:
SA Harlem North Central
Coach: Delaney Hellman
First-Place Speaker: Janell Prince
First-Place Team: Mariama Thiam and Janell Prince
Third-Place Speaker: Absa (Adja) Diop
Third-Place Team: Marame Diop and Absa (Adja) Diop
Seventh-Place Speaker: Dewayne Stephenson
Ninth-Place Team: Jacob Lukose and Dewayne Stephenson
SA Bed Stuy Middle School
Coach: Richard Brakeman
Third-Place Team: Madison Connor and Sherlyn Paulino
SA Midtown West:
Coach: Sofiya Andreyeva
Fourth-Place Team: Baran Downey and Amelia Petry
Ninth-Place Team: Alexander Lopez and Thelonius Lucien
Fourteenth-Place Speaker: Jayden Bias
Fifteenth-Place Speaker: Jay Vazquez
SA Ditmas Park
Coach: Alando McIntyre
Seventh-Place Team: Keziah Williams and Remone Carter
SA Hudson Yards
Coach: Hadassah Yisrael
Fifth-Place Team: Jacob Shinn and Tiara Naselli
Fifth-Place Speaker: Tiara Naselli