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Barlow's Debate Team Racks Up Another Win

Five of Joel Barlow High School's debaters earned "true treasures" as they clashed over policies to measure what it means to "teach the student" at their fourth home tournament this past Saturday.

The students took top honors while arguing over schemes that tie teacher compensation to student performance. Awards included the first place novice speaker and team awards along with the third and fourth place varsity team trophies from a pool of more than 160 students from 14 Connecticut high schools. These victories mean the team has a first-place finish in every Connecticut Debate Association tournament this season.

Barlow sophomore Brendan Coppinger was the star of the day. His 86-point first-place score was higher than any other debater in the novice or the varsity divisions. He and his partner, sophomore Nicolo Marzaro, shared the highest scoring 3-0 record, so they took first place novice team trophies as well.

By taking two first-place honors, Coppinger earned a rare "double-first" finish. Marzaro achieved the same feat in October, making them the only pair in Barlow history in which both partners managed a "double-first." Coppinger and Marzaro have helped Barlow take a first-place trophy at every association tournament this year. This duo has never lost a round in association competitions. With 11 wins, they have created an unprecedented streak for Barlow novices.

Several Barlow veterans, including team senior captain Matt Gombos, also saw success. He and his partner, senior Max Malec plowed undefeated through their three rounds, stacking up an impressive 160 points, earning the third-place varsity team trophy. This was the first varsity award for Max.

Behind them in fourth was junior Alex Cheu, who paired with Mary Harrison from Woodbury's Nonnewaug High School. Despite having known each other for less than an hour before competing, the two pulled off a perfect 3-0 record. This was Alex's first trophy in varsity.

Other bright spots included senior Lee Aldershof and junior James Kulowiec, who had a career-high 2-1 result.

With perhaps only one more tournament in the regular season, Barlow already has 14 students who have earned trophies this season, making it eligible for the state finals. This ties the team's previous record set in 2009.

What would be a good topic for high schoolers to debate? Discuss your ideas below!

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