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John Lamb, Published April 14 2013

Shanley debaters win international contest

NEW YORK – Shanley debaters won the 12th annual International Public Policy Forum debate competition in New York on Saturday.

Shanley defeated Hamilton High School, Chandler, Ariz., in the final round on a 5-2 decision to claim the title.

Shanley’s debaters were juniors and twin brothers Sebastian and Thomas Startz and senior Chase Johnson.

The subject of the team’s debate was that adaptation should be the most urgent response to climate change.

“They’re such great young men,” said debate coach Robert S. Littlefield. “They were always good from the very beginning, so it’s not like they were a Cinderella team.”

Two-hundred-and-sixteen schools from 36 states and 30 countries entered the competition in October. Through a series of online debates, the total was brought down to eight and all were brought to New York on an all-expenses-paid trip for the competition. Other finalist schools were from Bellaire, Texas; New York, N.Y.; Sandia Park, N.M.; Shaker Heights, Ohio; Sherman Oaks, Calif.; and Singapore.

Shanley Principal Sean Safranski called the win an “unbelievable accomplishment for a small school from North Dakota.”

The Shanley debate program will receive $5,000 and the three debaters will receive individual scholarships, totaling $10,000.

The win was dampened only by the debaters and coach being stuck in the Minneapolis airport on the way back Sunday due to the weather. The debaters are hoping to get to Bismarck today for the National Forensic League qualifiers.

The debate was sponsored by the Bickel and Brewer Foundation and New York University.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533