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 – 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 – Speak Up, Speak Out – 1.2017 Edition

When we speak, we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.

– Audre Lorde

When I was younger, I was very quiet. My teachers called me shy and sometimes I got lost in the midst of lots of others talking. During a conversation many years later, I heard a very clear statement in my mind. Your voice matters as much as anyone else’s. Speak up! No one else has the same combination of experiences and characteristics. Your perspective is important and can change minds and circumstances. In this season of changing politics, let us all practice the good citizenship of speaking up and out. Your voice is unique and needs to be heard. Be brave, speak your truth, and stand up for others!
~Coleen Reyes, Executive Director

BUDL debaters read their own #ThanksObamas letters at The Walters Museum’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on January 12th, 2017.


As we reflect on the power of speaking out, we pay gratitude to the folks who so often lead the way–the mentors!
Wayne Young, a former debater and Social Work student at McDaniel College, has been involved with BUDL for many years. From debating policy in elementary school to working as a tabulation assistant at current tournaments to even coaching from time to time, Wayne is always a positive presence, inspiring for his commitment and dedication to student voice.
“It’s not about the win or lose,” says Wayne, “It’s about the lesson and skill.” We could not agree more, and for this reason are so grateful that Wayne and other mentors like him are giving back to debate as role models for the next generation!




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, hosted at Arundel High School (1000 Annapolis Rd, Gambrills, MD 21054) on February 11th!
Contact Program Coordinator Anne Marie at if you are interested in being a volunteer-judge–no experience necessary!

It’s Debatable!

A new “It’s Debatable” professional development course will open for registration in January and start on February 3rd.
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.

Dear BUDL community,

On behalf of the staff and board of the Baltimore Urban Debate League we want to express our most heart felt solidarity with the members of the community we are here to serve.   We are promoters of youth voice that is expressed with power and purpose.   We are a large community with many voices and many experiences but we are united with a common desire to see our community become stronger, better, and more just in the wake of these most recent examples of violence and injustice in our city.  The anger and frustration so many of us feel is real and rooted in decades of painful neglect of our communities.   The voices of our teachers, our school leaders, our students and their families and neighbors have been shouting to be heard and have too often been muffled, diminished or silenced.

Today the Baltimore Urban Debate League is committed to continuing to raise the positive, justice and peace seeking voices of our youth.   Together they have a collective knowledge, experience, and wisdom.  Often before we may know where  or how to move ahead they see the pathway forward.  We will continue to support, and encourage and make way for their leadership.

With deep love and respect,

The Baltimore Urban Debate League

dc visitor center 1dc visitors center 2

The Mount Washington School has kicked off public debate month in style by heading to the White House this past Friday. Debaters, along with Mt. Washington Coach, Ryan Kaiser, scoured the White House Visitor’s Center for facts they could use to respond to this statement: The White House represents every day life in America.

In pursuit of an answer, debaters learned fun facts ranging from the negotiation of major peace treaties inside the White House walls to the cozy living quarters for families, to White House pets, to the fact that President Reagan had 3 TONS of jelly beans shipped to the White House for his inauguration! While several of us agreed that we love jelly beans, we also agreed we’d never have the luxury of having 6000 lbs of them all at once! So, does life in the White House represent daily life in America? You’ll have to decide that for yourself!