October 15 – Newark Public Schools high school senior Sunhee Simon was chosen from among thousands of debaters across the United States to become an official member of the USA National Debate Team. Sunhee is one of 12 students from across the United States selected to compete against other national teams from around the world. Newark Public Schools’ debate programs have consistently been recognized as some of the best in the United States. We are delighted at this incredible milestone in Newark’s 34 year history of competitive academic debate.
The executive director of the National Speech & Debate Association commented, “The students who were selected to the USA Debate Team represent the most talented student debaters across the country. These students truly are the best of the best and we are thrilled to have them represent our organization on the global stage”. The team will be coached by both Aaron Timmons, director of speech and debate at the Greenhill School in Addison, Texas, and by Dr. Alfred Snider, director of debate at the University of Vermont.
Simon made history twice during the month of September. First, she was chosen to be a member of the national team. Then, SunHee went undefeated at the Greenhill School National Debate Tournament in Dallas, Texas to win Science Park’s first National Tournament since 1992.
SunHee responded to the news of her selection, “When I found out I was going to be on the USA debate team, I was extremely excited. The prospect of representing my country in an activity that I love is amazing in and of itself, but I knew that this would impact my community. When applying, I was adamant in showing that I not only want to represent my country, but my city. Newark has empowered me and shaped me into a talented young woman and I want the world-and even those within my community—to feel the same about young people from Newark. Debate is an activity that can change lives and through World’s Debate, I am able to display that on a macro-level. It’s truly an honor.”
The USA debate team will compete against teams across the world, with over 65 different countries participating in the Worlds Debating Championship since its inception in 1988. The USA debate team does a format of debate called “worlds schools debate”. According to the National Speech and Debate Association, “World Schools Debate is a unique and dynamic form of debate, unlike any other practiced in the United States. World Schools Debate features a dynamic format combining the concepts of “prepared” topics with “impromptu” topics, encouraging debaters to focus on specified issues rather than debate theory or procedural arguments. This highly interactive style of debate allows debaters to engage each other, even during speeches. This challenging format requires good teamwork and in-depth quality argumentation.”
SunHee will be traveling to Germany in November for her first official competition. The team will then head to New Orleans, followed by an event in Slovenia. The national team will finish their travels at the World Championships in Singapore in July. In the interim, SunHee will continue traveling across the country representing Science Park High School at local, regional, and national tournaments.
SunHee is a member of Science Park’s International Baccalaureate program where she maintains a 4.6 grade point average. She is applying to Stanford and hopes to debate for them next fall. Our hats are off to Simon as she represents Newark, New Jersey and the nation.