PARKLAND, FL- Three Parkland students recently competed on Broward County debate teams at the World Schools Debate competition in Dallas, TX. Todd Hewling and Bela Urbina of Stoneman Douglas and St. Thomas Aquinas's John Hunschofsky joined seven other elite students from Broward County for the competition. 

Broward County formed two teams, named Manatee Blue and Manatee Gray. The teams faced off against teams from not only the USA, but the world in the 2019 National Speech and Debate Association's World Schools Debate Competition. Over 50 countries were represented in the English-speaking debate that was held this year in Dallas, TX.

Justin Weaver, Instructional Facilitator of Civic Engagement for Broward County Schools, was impressed with the ability of the Broward group. "Both teams practiced together for weeks leading up to Nationals. Even though they're all talented debaters in their own right, working together as a team was something they needed to work on. Manatee Blue had a record of 3-3 through 6 rounds of preliminary competition in Dallas," he said. The 3-3 record did not qualify for the playoff elimination rounds. 

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The Manatee Gray team had even greater success. "Manatee Gray went 5-1 through the 6 rounds of preliminary competition, earning one of the top seeds in the elimination rounds! They went on to win 3 elimination rounds over two days, getting eliminated in quarterfinals and finishing in the top 8 in the nation," shared Weaver. Along the way, Manatee Gray also eliminated teams from Canada and China, an exceptional achievement on its path to reaching the final eight teams.

Lead Coach for the Broward teams, Jesus Caro, is tremendously proud of the students. "I met a group of 10 Broward County debate competitors two months ago and presented them with the challenge of winning a national championship. I told them the most important thing about being on a team is synergy which is achieved only through good communication as a team. Over the past two months they developed strategies, formed roles, and took ownership of their stake as representatives of the Florida Manatee district and achieved great success," he said. 

Although the Broward teams didn't win the national title, they performed remarkably well and made the Broward County and Parkland community proud.

"There is a certain joy that comes from sharing the "secrets" of this activity with a younger generation who has taken a stake in the activity. I am incredibly proud to have coached this team and the growth they showed in such a short amount of time," Caro shared.

The 2020 World Schools Debate competition will be held in Bangalore City, India. Broward County will continue to compete in an effort to be among the world's best speech and debate competitors.