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Annual High School Debate Championship At The City Club

On Friday, March 10th, we went to the City Club for the annual high school debate championship that it has hosted for at least 20 years now. As the program notes stated, this event "is sponsored by BakerHostetler in memory of Patrick J. Jordan. Mr. Jordan was a partner of the firm and an outstanding debater in high school."

 The resolution being debated was, "public colleges and universities in the United States ought not restrict constitutionally protected speech" and the two debaters were Mr. Andrew Gilmore, a senior at University School (for the affirmative) and Mr. Zade Akras, a junior at Hawken School (for the negative).

The format was that of a "Lincoln-Douglas" debate which, according to "Wikipedia" is "sometimes also called values debate because the format traditionally places a very heavy emphasis on logic, ethical values and philosophy."

During the course of the debate, in between contentions and rebuttals, a commentary was provided by Mr. Nick Castele of WCPN/Ideastream and Miss Pammy Boulas, a very experienced debater from Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School.

To be sure, both of the debaters had very impressive resumes:

The City Club bio for Mr. Gilmore stated that he had "served as the captain of University School's Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debate team for the past two years and as overall head captain of the entire Speech and Debate Program for this year. He is three time state qualifier, two time national qualifier, one time state runner-up, and one time state co-champion in LD..."

The City Club bio for Mr. Akras stated that "this is his third year competing in Lincoln-Douglas Debate" and one of his coaches, Mr. Chase Williams, told us that Mr. Akras had won several local and state contests. In fact, he is one of the three national qualifiers for his school district. During lunch, we shared a table and had a congenial visit with his parents who both immigrated to the United States from Syria. 

Members and coaches of debate teams from several high schools came to watch and learn including those of Vermilion High School who endured whiteout weather conditions on the highway to be with us. 

The debaters were introduced by Mr. Sebastian Williams, a young man who was a veteran City Club debater. Mr. Williams said that he had great respect for both Mr. Gilmore and Mr. Akras as people and as debaters. This viewpoint was echoed by Mr. Mark J. McCandless, CPA and President of Pathfinder Wealth Advisors LLC, who told his that he had the fortune to judge prior debates that they participated in and considered these two fine young men to be "great debaters."

We thought so too and apparently so did the three judges who ended up naming Mr. Gilmore (a senior with more experience) the winner in a 2 to 1 call; but we strongly suspect that if he keeps progressing (as we are sure that he will) we just might see Mr. Akras (a junior) back at the City Club same time next year.   


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC