Cedar Hill Prep Hosts Middle School Debate Tournament

Cedar Hill Prep School founder Nandini Menon, left, speaks with members of her school’s debate teams March 18 at the Garden State Debate League tournament.

Update: Cedar Hill Prep had the most wins in the tournament, with three of the top four teams and seven of the top 10.

Original Story: A record number of students participated in the winter Garden State Debate League tournament, held March 18 at Cedar Hill Preparatory School on Cedar Grove Lane.

A total of 48 teams from six schools competed in the day-long event, seem as a prelude to the East Coast Regional Finals of the Middle School Debate League, scheduled for May in Freehold.

Last year, Cedar Hill finished 5th out of 29 teams in the regionals, the best of any New Jersey school in the tournament and had one student who was ranked 21st in the region.

“This is the largest meet we’ve had so far this year,” said Nandini Menon, Cedar Hll’s founder.

Each school sent multiple teams of three students – Cedar Hill had 12 teams participating – to engage each other in a series of four debates.

Melon said the debate topics are chosen by the California-based English-Speaking Union Schools, which partners with Claremont McKenna College’s Middle School Public Debate Program.

The topics for this meet were:

  • Ban Alcohol Advertising
  • A Free Press is More Important than National Security
  • Zoos Do More Harm Than Good
  • Public Colleges And Universities Must Be Tuition-Fee

“Most of them are 5th to 8th graders who are debating,” she said. “The art of argumentation has rules, and they have to follow those rules.”

The debates took place in the school’s classrooms. The debaters are given their topics about a month in advance, but they’re not told which side they will be assigned. As a result, they must spend the month researching both sides of the issue.

Besides Cedar Hill, schools participating were Stonebridge Middle School from Allentown, Broad Street School in Bridgeton, William Annin School in Basking Ridge, Wilberforce School of Princeton  and An-Noor Academy of Piscataway.


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