The BUDL BUZZ: September 2017 Edition


Welcome Back!

We cannot believe that it is already September and school is back in action! The Baltimore Urban Debate League is excited to start the school year with so many new schools, debaters, and teacher coaches to bring in the new competitive debate season. Before we share what’s ahead, here are few updates on what kept our students busy over the summer…


Summer Camp 2017


This year’s Elementary/Middle School summer camp served 64 students at The Johns Hopkins University, Homewood Campus. We introduced a few new elements this year, focusing on public and committee style debates. Students observed new styles of speech and debate including impromptu speaking, duo interpretation, and original oratory!



Public Debates


Thanks to MECU, debaters gathered at Govans Farmers Market to engage the public in a summer public debate! They used this time to show off their public speaking and debate skills to a bustling crowd! What a wonderful way to engage the community!

Start of Something New & The 2017-2018 Competitive Debate Season


BUDL is excited to bring on several Lead Coaches in the EMS Competitive Debate Program. Due to our rapid expansion of 39 city schools in the EMS program, they will help to support our newest schools as they learn the debate season ropes. Lead Coaches will visit schools and serve as peer coaches throughout the school year. We look forward to sharing news from them and updating you all on the amazing progress happening afterschool and on Saturday tournaments.

This year’s debate policy resolution is “Resolved: The State of Maryland should drastically curtail standardized testing for public school students in grades K-12.” Students and coaches voted on this resolution at the end of last season and certainly will have plenty of arguments to share on how this impacts their educational experience!


Elementary/Middle School Tournament #1

Join us on Saturday, October 14th for BUDL’s first elementary/middle school tournament of the season held at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School (5207 Roland Ave, Baltimore, MD 21210).

E-mail if you are interested in being a volunteer-judge–no experience necessary!






It’s Debatable!

BUDL PD’s “It’s Debatable” 2AU course had another great summer session, adding eleven new members to the BUDL PD family. We’ll be looking to keep up our momentum when we offer an open planning workshop on September 12th to add BUDL PD past participants and friends.

Email for more information.



Coleen’s Corner

More than January, September always feels like a new year. It could be because of my birthday, but more likely it is because I have always loved the beginning of the school year! September feels like a time full of promise, excitement, and hope.

We are so excited about all of the changes and growth happening in our EMS program already. We’re still working on getting schools recruited so there is potential for even more. I hope that your September feels full of promise, excitement, and hope too!

~Coleen Reyes, Executive Director


High School Program Update

Though it was a difficult decision to put our high school program on hiatus for a school year, we still believe it was the right decision. Our high school program is in the process of being redesigned. In addition to processing lots of feedback from stakeholders, we are engaging in a design thinking experience to refine the lessons from the past, hopes, and goals for the new program.

We are building from the foundation up so asking lots of questions and considering lots of options. We are excited about the potential for our new program to increase opportunities for young people in high schools all over the city to further develop their own voice and use it with power and purpose.


Without you, BUDL could not provide after-school programming and Saturday competitive debate tournaments for students across the District. Give a gift to BUDL and support the good work happening in Baltimore. Share us with friends and tell them about how debate matters in your life.  Thank you for the debate love!

The BUDL BUZZ – BUDL in Bloom – 03.2017 Edition


Spring is a time of wonder and growth. We are excited to continue seeing our young people bloom and shine all over their schools and city. Join us in celebrating the wonders of spring by seeing the light and newness everywhere!

– Coleen Reyes, Executive Director



At our last regular season EMS tournament of the year, on March 18th, we asked our debaters who they would debate if they could debate anyone in the world. You might be surprised by their answers!

30% of students would love to take on our President Donald J. Trump and 15% their coach or teacher!





Adventures and Acclaim at BUDL Travel Debates 

On March 3rd and 4th, a group of 22 BUDL debaters braved the cold to head to the Lakeland Westchester Classic, an annual invitational tournament held in Shrub Oak, NY.
It was an eventful weekend, with Baltimore City College debater Deontrey Y. (teamed with Will D.) placing 5th in Speaker Awards for Varsity Policy, and Tyler T., also of Baltimore City College, and debating alone, advancing to the quarter-finals in Novice Policy.

Photo provided by BCC Debate Coach, Patrick Daniels. Thanks Coach Daniels for the photo!

Congratulations to all of our adventurous high school debaters!


Elijah, of Roland Park Elementary/Middle School, is hardly new to debate. Though he’s been a BUDL debater for two and a half years, he’s been, by his own admission, debating since he was two years old.
“I have to have the last word,” he says. “It runs in my family.”
“It’s not necessarily about the win,” he continues, “even though it feels good to have won a round. It’s more about learning something new, having fun, even making new friends.”
At the end of his seventh grade year, Elijah is currently plotting his next move. He hopes to bring his debate prowess to the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he would like to study architecture, visual arts, or theater.
We know you can succeed at whatever you put your mind to, Elijah!


On March 22nd, BUDL hosted its second Student Climate Ambassador training, piloted to support student debaters in effecting change in their own schools. In attendance were student ambassadors from three schools: Lillie May Carroll Jackson, Calverton, and Frederick Douglass. The students revisited their Session 1 focus on the five pillars of School Climate, and continued to develop the skills to engage all stakeholders and work together as a team.

We are excited for ambassadors to report back on their next task: interviewing three members of their schools!


Join us on Saturday, April 1st at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School (5207 Roland Ave, Baltimore MD 21210) for BUDL’s Elementary and Middle School Championship tournament! We could not be more excited to celebrate our students’ amazing achievements throughout the year, and we invite you to come out and support our very own Great Debaters.
Contact BUDL at if you are interested in being a volunteer-judge–no experience necessary!

“It’s Debatable!” Professional Development Graduates 10 New Teachers!

We are proud to share that our “It’s Debatable!” program has graduated ten new teachers! One of those graduates is BUDL debate alum Nisa Little, who is now a fourth grade teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools. Here at BUDL we love lifelong learners, and are especially excited to see debate come full circle.
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.
Without you, BUDL could not provide after-school programming, competitive debate tournaments, community engagement events, and free summer camp for students across the District.
Give a gift to BUDL and support student voice in the City of Baltimore.  Check out our donate page to see how your contribution helps promote voice.  Share us with friends and tell them about how debate matters in your life.  We appreciate you!

The BUDL BUZZ – For the Love of Debate 2.2017 Edition

This month we celebrated Valentine’s Day with lots of hearts and love. I hope you see debate as part of love! Even though when we debate we focus on trying to convince someone that we are more right than others, simply engaging in the debate is an act of love. Anytime we engage in a conversation or discussion about an issue that is contentious or controversial, we engage our bravery. When we listen and learn from others, we engage in love. We make our world better. Talking about the things that are difficult to talk about is one of the best ways to show love to others and for ourselves.

At BUDL, we also get to see love all the time when alumni come back to support the next generation. We see so many parents and family members come out to be silent cheerleaders for their debaters, and we have volunteers who come and share their time to support and encourage our debaters. That’s love in action…and we love it!

Be brave, loving, open with your support, and use your voice (this month and always) to engage. Happy love month!

– Coleen Reyes, Executive Director


On February 3rd and 4th, a cohort of 31 BUDL high school debaters from five schools attended
the annual Pennsbury Falcon Invitational tournament, located in Fairless Hills, PA.
Congratulations to Baltimore City College student Jonathan G.,
who placed 8th out of 70 for the JV Policy Speaker Award!

BUDL debaters stage an informal scrimmage with Washington Urban Debate League at the Pennsbury Falcon Invitational.


Lisa Mcgraw-Robinson has been with BUDL since the very beginning. A student at Lake Clifton High School in 1999, she went on to represent her school at the Emory National Debate Institute that summer, winning numerous awards with her sister and teammate at Baltimore City College over the next several years.
“I barely spoke before debate,” she says. “Being involved with debate helped me to get over my extreme shyness.”
Since 2002, Lisa has consistently volunteered her time and expertise at BUDL tournaments. “I love giving back to the program that did so much for me,” she says. “My debate skills have helped me to see things from all sides. I am able to articulate my point and understand someone else’s where we meet in the middle. “
Today, Lisa holds a degree in Social Work, and is currently working on a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. At the same time, she works at the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services, where she says that her debate skills are often put to good use.
Thank you, Lisa, for everything that you do to enrich the lives of young people in Baltimore–BUDL wouldn’t be the same without you!


Join us on Saturday, February 25th for BUDL’s fifth elementary/middle school tournament held at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School (5207 Roland Ave, Baltimore, MD 21210).
Contact Program Coordinator Anne Marie at if you are interested in being a volunteer-judge–no experience necessary!

It’s Debatable!

We are halfway through facilitating another round of “It’s Debatable!” professional development, wherein we have the pleasure of working with participants across grade levels and content areas.

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.

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!