ROXBURY, NJ - The Roxbury High School Debate Team recently won the Northwest Debate League Championship for the first time in decades.
The victory came at a debate where 16 teams from eight schools came together at the turf of defending champs West Morris Central High School in Chester.
Both the Roxbury Negative and Affirmative teams advanced to the final rounds by winning two rounds each. Roxbury’s negative team won its third round against the Sparta Affirmative team but was sidelined by one point to allow the Affirmative Roxbury team to represent Roxbury in the final championship round against the Jefferson Township High School Negative team.
“It was brutal battle for first place, as the Jefferson Negative team had discovered a Wall Street Journal article that very morning that seemingly destroyed Roxbury’s affirmative plan. Yet, Roxbury junior James Morley did not allow this explosive evidence to distress him. He managed to find a way to not only address this damaging evidence but used Jefferson’s last minute find to support his argument creating an advantage,” explained Elizabeth Heddy, Roxbury Debate Team advisor.
James Morley and Talia Atanasio were victorious and won the Northwest Debate Leagues’ Championship. According to the trophy, which was brought to the high school for safekeeping, there has not been a Roxbury Championship win since before 1987, at least 30 years ago.
Not only did the Roxbury team win the championship, it also completed a record-breaking 2016/2017 season, sweeping the Northwest Debate League’s awards ceremony with an unprecedented domination of both the Affirmative and Negative sides of the debate.
Junior Anavil Patel and sophomore Chris Lange were the first place Negative team, winning 12 rounds in the regular season. Patel won third place individual Negative Speaker Award and Atanasio won second place as an individual Affirmative Speaker.
Special honors were also achieved. Atanasio won Novice Debater of the Year by scoring 183 points in the regular season.
“Very few first year debaters compete at the varsity level, Talia really proved herself as a force to be reckoned with this year,” Heddy said.
Morley also broke records by achieving his second Speaker of the Year Award in a row.
“This is unprecedented as the award has historically been won by senior debaters," Heddy said. "Morley has the ability to break his own record if he takes this greatest of honors again next year."
The team had a supporting group of students that worked behind the scenes including Patricia Lalo, Storm Moeller,and Brody Hageneder.
“The team would like to thank all of the administrators, staff, and teachers who have supported their quest, especially Mr. Swanson, Mr. Mason, Mrs. Dzurina, Mrs. Morris, Mrs. Jasiecki and Mrs. Presti,” Heddy said.