Sayville High School Hosted LIFA Tournament

Photo courtesy of Jack Ahrens

October 23, 2021

  • “In All Debates, Let Truth Be Thy Aim”William Penn

    For the first time since the co-curricular debate club was launched in Sayville, the High School hosted the Long Island Forensic* Association's (LIFA) debate tournament. These adjudicated debate-tournament competitions, that develop public speaking and promote leadership, are held throughout the school year and lead to the State Championship, sponsored by the New York State Forensic League.

    On Saturday, October 23rd, the LIFA All-Debate Tournament was an all-day event with nearly 175 students competing from nine other schools: Jericho, Syosset, Cold Spring Harbor, Half Hollow Hills East, Chaminade, Bayport-Blue Point, Ward Melville, Great Neck South, Schreiber. In addition to the debaters, seventy volunteer judges, trained and equipped with a set of criteria, also attended.

    Sayville’s Forensic Club Advisor Eileen Walsh-Ahrens was excited by the honor that brought some of the most prominent districts on Long Island to the competition and glad for the assistance of Sayville Chaperone team Debbie Armendinger, Margie Dashiell, Doug Shaw, and Hannah Michaelson who helped during the day.

    Sayville’s Novice PF club team members, Gianna Maniscalco, and Sophia Cangelosi, trained by Olivia Massey for the competition, demonstrated remarkable analytical and communication skills and performed well in their competitions.

    As customary, the tournament involved different kinds of debating formats: The Lincoln–Douglas (LD) debate, named for the 1858 Lincoln–Douglas debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas, is a type of one-on-one competitive debate. The Public Forum (PF) debate, a two-person format, is a widespread form of competitive debate which centers around current events and relies on both logic and evidence to construct arguments.

    During the LIFA All-Debate Tournament in Sayville, debaters prepared and competed on both sides of the resolution; pro and con. The Lincoln-Douglas debaters resolved: The member nations of the World Trade Organization ought to reduce intellectual property protections for medicines; And the Public Forum debaters resolved: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization should substantially increase its defense commitments to the Baltic states.

    While overall, the First Place spot went to Half Hollow Hills East, Second Place to Syosset, and Third Place to Chaminade and Jericho, Sayville’s Novice PF team, comprised of Gianna Maniscalco, and Sophia Cangelosi, earned half qualifications. “To qualify to compete at States,” Mrs. Walsh-Ahrens explained, “debaters must place at least twice in tournaments.  Each time they place, they receive a half qualification. In a very competitive field of twenty-eight Novice PF teams, Gianna and Sophia won three out of their four rounds and placed Seventh in points, earning a half qualification for States."

    Principal Ron Hoffer offered his “congratulations” to the Sayville High School participants as well as to the staff for “spearheading such a tremendous opportunity for our students and school community.” 

    *The word "forensic" is an adjective meaning "of public debate or argument." The word is derived from the Latin word forensis, meaning "of the forum." The sense of the word "forensic" that means "pertaining to legal trials" dates from the 17th century (Oxford English Dictionary) and led to the use of the word "forensics" in reference to legal evidence.

    Photos courtesy of Jack Ahrens