When Christopher Columbus High School juniors Tyler Anderson and Joseph Corderi heard what their topic would be for the state debate competition last weekend, they knew they would be well prepared.
Anderson and Corderi, both 16, would debate the merits of learning in a single gender environment as a team. The pair, who debated at the Florida Forensic League Varsity State tournament, had a lot of experience on this topic —Columbus is a private all-boys school.
“We were really excited,’’ said Tyler. “It would be difficult to argue against since we have so much fun here.”
The juniors argued both sides convincingly, placing in the top eight in the division, which moved them into qualifiers for nationals at Miami Beach Senior High on Saturday.
This is not the first success for the two. Recently, the debate team traveled to the University of California, Berkeley, to compete at the invitational. The two competed at the four-day national tournament, going undefeated and winning the championship.
Debate team advisor Dario Camara says the pair possess a lot of qualities that make them successful.
“It is a combination between their strong work ethic, being good public speakers and the ability to think on their feet,” he said.
Camara says the Columbus team ranks in the top 10 percent of school teams in the nation. Camara decided to take the students to the Berkeley Invitational for the first time this year so they could compete on a national level.
“Teams from California tend to have a different style,” said Camara. “This trip allowed the students to compete with teams from there instead of first seeing them at nationals.”
Going with the pair to the qualifiers for nationals is Anderson’s brother and team president, Nicholas, who competed in a style of debate called Lincoln-Douglas last weekend. (The style refers to the 1858 series of debates between Abraham Lincoln, the Republican candidate in Illinois for the U.S. Senate, and Sen. Stephen Douglas, the Democratic Party candidate.) Anderson, a senior, placed third in the state and was the only student from Miami-Dade in the division to qualify.
Nicholas Anderson, 17, believes the team’s camaraderie is largely responsible for their success.
“We have definitely evolved as a team,” Anderson said. “We are together every day after school and it is an intellectual type of bonding.”