The BUDL BUZZ – Debate and Family 12.2016 Edition


Hello BUDL Friends!

The holidays conjure so many images: good food, long lines at the airport, days off of school or work. Most importantly to many of us, though, they mean family.

But family means more than just direct blood ties. We also cherish our chosen families–our friends and partners, our colleagues and allies.

And you. This holiday season, we are so grateful to you, our debate family, for your support, enthusiasm, and commitment to the relationships built through debate. We hope you enjoy this peek at what our young debaters have been getting up to, in their schools and beyond.



Creativity. It’s not one of the words most often associated with policy debate, but most every debater would tell you that to compete at a tournament takes quick thinking, imagination, and flexibility.

One new team at our third High School tournament on Saturday, November 12th, showcased a perfect example of just this flexibility and teamwork. Because of a change of plans, Mahmoud Shalby and Jasmine Owens, both of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, had to readjust on the spot to become debate partners.

“I felt like it was a lot of pressure,” said Owens, “But since I’ve been debating for three years, I’m used to it, no matter who I work with.”

“The reason I excel at debate,” she continued, “is that I’m very diligent, outside school and in… [Debates] let me argue with people, do what I do best, and get awarded.” She even, in her senior year, has a job, and is confident that debate will help her pursue her dream career in biomedical engineering.

As we reflect on and express gratitude for different kinds of families this month, we are inspired by Shalby and Owens’ example of on-the-spot teamwork. We look forward to seeing what 2017 holds for both debaters, as well as our whole debate family!


To most people, a resolution is a new years’ promise you may (or, let’s be honest, may not) keep. To debaters, though, a resolution means a specific statement that is put forth to be debated by the affirmative team.

As we put 2016 to bed, so too do we say goodbye to EMS’s Fall resolution, on the subject of community land trusts. Most everyone involved agreed that this was a very complex but rich topic, one that increased students’ awareness of home ownership, building equity, and Baltimore City itself. As the semester went on, coaches were impressed by students’ increased understanding of the ins and outs of this issue.

Which brings us to our newest resolution, to be first debated in January: that the State of Maryland should increase the statewide minimum wage to $15.00/hour. In order to tackle this multi-faceted subject, students will learn about income inequality, the challenges of small businesses, and the unique arguments for and against increasing the minimum wage in Maryland. Be sure to come out to watch our debaters develop their arguments in the tournaments to come–we guarantee you’ll learn something!



The end of the year often means a time for reflection on what from the past twelve months we are most proud of. To that end, EMS Program Manager Leslie Stanton shares this memory of a BUDL-supported trip to the Baltimore Community Toolbank:

“[This past May], dozens of BUDL students got to visit the Toolbank and flex their creative muscle to use broken tools to invent new, useful and fascinating new items. Our students learned about the Chesapeake Watershed, talked about how litter and waste can negatively impact our community and planet, and then use this knowledge to build contraptions which would benefit their neighborhoods.”

Thanks so much again to the Baltimore Community Toolbank, Noah Smock, as well as BGE and the Chesapeake Bay Trust Foundation, for helping to facilitate this wonderful experience for our debaters!


Join us on Saturday, January 21st for BUDL’s fourth elementary/middle school tournament held at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School (5207 Roland Ave, Baltimore, MD 21210). If you can’t make it, come check us out at our next tournament on February 11th!

Contact Program Coordinator Anne Marie at or if you are interested in being a volunteer-judge–no experience necessary!




Due to inclement weather, the December 17th high school tournament is canceled. A make-up date will be announced at a later date. Thank you to those who signed up to volunteer. Stay warm and have a great weekend!

Contact Program Coordinator Anne Marie at if you are interested in being a volunteer-judge at the next tournament–no experience necessary!



We are honored to be able to participate in The Walters Museum’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on Thursday, January 12th, 2017. Our students will be reading both original work, as well as excerpts from Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

Be sure to visit The Walters’ website for more information or check out our Facebook page for details. Come and support our students!



It’s Debatable!

Another cohort of “It’s Debatable” 2AU class just finished. Thank you teachers for participating!

On 11/29, 21 interns from the Urban Teachers group received a 1-hour PD on “It’s Debatable” methods and the importance of argument in the elementary classroom. Way to go urban teachers for recognizing argument in our classrooms!

If you are interested in learning more about Professional Development and how debate can support all subjects, teachers, and classrooms, contact Jen Wheeler ( for more information on BUDL’s “It’s Debatable!” professional development program.

Debate is truly making a difference in teaching and learning in Baltimore!




Who is your family? Are they just relatives by blood? I would argue that we all have family that we’ve chosen. I have many family members who are members by love, not blood. I am as grateful for both kinds of family members. Some have been family since high school, have seen me through many challenges, and know me better than I know myself. In relationships, we don’t always agree and family gives us the opportunity to love each other through the debate and dialogue of life. Further, as family, we have a commitment to each other to not let problems fester, but to have the hard conversations and debates of life. I see BUDL as part of my family chosen by love. Not only has the work provided me the opportunity to add to my family but also remind me how important that communication within a family is to success. As you enjoy the holidays and family time, appreciate the healthy communication through debate. We are closer when all can see the situation from many perspectives. Have a wonderful December! See you next year!!


Still holiday shopping? BUDL’s got you covered. We have a limited amount of “I HEART DEBATE” and “B’MORE DEBATE” tees still for sale, directly from our website.

Rep your debate pride in comfy style!