Cadet Chiovaro Returning to Debate Nationals

On March 2, 2013 five members of the Debate Team rose before 0600 and traveled to Madison County High School to compete in the State Finals Tournament of the Virginia Catholic Forensic League.  Christian Abell, Andrew Hyers, and Kaiwen Yang (Extemporaneous Speaking), Brad Chiovaro (Student Congress), and James Sasai (Lincoln-Douglas Debate) qualified for this tournament during the regular season.

Sixteen students from ten schools competed in Extemporaneous Speaking.  Three of these -- Christian Abell, Andrew Hyers, and Kaiwen Yang -- represented Fork Union.  These students knew that they would need to speak for at least five minutes, but no longer than seven and one-half minutes, on a current events topic.  They did not know the actual question until 30 minutes before they delivered each speech.  The top five contestants qualified for Nationals.  Christian Abell answered the following questions - (1)  Should the U.S. prioritize economic growth over environmental issues?  (2)  Do American banks need more oversight?  (3) Does income inequality harm economic growth?  Andrew Hyers answered these questions - (1) Will the Obama Administration's use of drones become an accepted part of executive power in the long term?  (2)  Will Earth's recent encounters with asteroids provide the political boast for funding for NASA?  (3)  Have recent events caused permanent damage to the NRA's influence over American gun control debate?  Kaiwen Yang answered these questions - (1) Can the economy recover without a recovery in the housing market?  (2) Will Earth's recent encounters with asteroids provide the political boast for funding for NASA?   (3) What effect will Pope Benedict's resignation have on the Vatican's influence internationally?  These three cadets delivered speeches ranging in length from five minutes and 18 seconds to six minutes and 24 seconds.  They received some good pointers from the judges to help them in future speaking endeavors, but did not receive high enough scores to enable them to advance to the national tournament.

Seventeen students from eight schools competed in Student Congress.  Prior to the tournament, students were encouraged to submit legislation dealing with the following assigned areas -

  • Brazilian Ethanol Tariffs
  • Afghanistan
  • Geothermal Energy
  • Venezuela and U.S. Oil Import Policy
  • Federal Funding for the National Endowment for the Arts
  • Red Light Cameras Controversy (example-Maryland)
  • Juvenile Justice and Community Service Oversight in Virginia
  • Tax Supported Pet Shelters and Adoption Policy

Each school (with students competing in Student Congress) was required to submit at least one piece of legislation prior to the tournament.  Brad Chiovaro was the only FUMA cadet competing in this category.  He prepared well by writing three pieces of legislation - submitting more than any other student or school.  His legislation was -

  • Sufficient funds will be distributed to purchase red light cameras to prevent future accidents in accident prone intersections.
  • American supplementary troops shall be kept in Afghanistan to protect American business interests as well as the interests of America's allies.
  • The United States shall increase trade relationships with Venezuela.

Brad delivered four speeches and earned scores high enough to win 5th place at States.  Students who finished in the top five qualified for the Grand National Tournament which will be held in Philadelphia during Memorial Day weekend.  Brad attended Nationals last year (Baltimore, Maryland), and competed in Student Congress.  Brad is the only FUMA cadet to attend Nationals twice.  In past years some cadets have qualified to attend nationals more than once, but were unable to attend because they were seniors.  FUMA's graduation and Debate Nationals take place on the same weekend each year.

Fifteen students from seven schools competed in Lincoln-Douglas Debate.  James Sasai was the only FUMA cadet competing in this category.  His assigned topic was -

  • The United States is justified in intervening in the internal political processes of other countries to attempt to stop human rights abuses.


James prepared both affirmative and negative speeches to address this topic.  At States debaters are eliminated after losing two rounds.  Due to a confusing ballot from round one, James was given a loss.  On this confusing ballot, the name of the student who "won" did not match the code of the student who was given the win. This discrepancy was not detected by the tab room personnel, but was brought to their attention when students were able to view their ballots at the end of the day.  So it is very likely that James won two of the three rounds that he debated, and should have been permitted to compete in the final round of debate.

We departed from Madison County High School, and headed to Gordonsville where we stopped for dinner at The Barbeque Exchange.  After an exhausting day Cadet Sasai still had enough mental energy to challenge the group to think of a nine-letter word which has only one vowel.  This has been a very enjoyable debate season - spent with students who stay mentally engaged even during the "down" times.  The van arrived back at Jacobson Hall around 2030 on Saturday evening.

We wish Brad Chiovaro much success as he prepares to compete at Nationals in May.