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SPS Partners with State Street Debate Society to Expand Winning Debate Program to Middle Schools

Conn Middle School Debate League logo
Stamford Public Schools (SPS) announced that State Street Debate Society recently provided a grant to expand the district’s award-winning debate program to middle school students.  Academy of Information Technology & Engineering (AITE) AP Government and History Teacher and Debate Coach Claude Morest, working with representatives of the State Street Debate Society and the Connecticut Middle School Debate League, has expanded the middle school offering.  Thanks to the grant, Stamford Middle School Debate (SMSD) will initially serve students in Sixth through Eighth grades, with an emphasis on recruiting students who could benefit most from the program. 
 “Participation in organized debate not only teaches public speaking, but team dynamics and leadership.   Students learn to structure arguments, make convincing analyses and effectively present their ideas,” said Morest. “In addition, debate teaches students to listen, acknowledge and respond to a dissenting perspective.” 
SMSD takes a unique cross-age mentoring approach to an after-school activity, pairing successful debaters from all three Stamford high schools with their novice middle school counterparts.  Over the past few months, students from Rogers International Magnet School have been working with Stamford High School (SHS) debate students to develop their skills and establish the format and procedures for SMSD.  The Rogers team of Arush Rai, Selina Aspesi and Frank Bear won all three of their debates at the competition held in Wilton, in late January. 
In addition to the Rogers’ debate team, which it is coached by Rogers Teacher Mike Argenio and mentored by SHS students, debate is now offered as an after-school activity across the district. At Cloonan Middle School, the team is coached by English Teacher and SHS Football Coach Jamar Greene and is mentored by Westhill High School (WHS) students. A citywide program is hosted at the Rippowam / AITE campus, which is coached by AITE Social Studies Teacher John Dalton and mentored by AITE students.  Teams will meet weekly in preparation for participation in the statewide Middle School debate tournament scheduled for Saturday, April 4, 2020 in Greenwich, Conn.  The tournament will feature middle school students from more than 20 Connecticut schools. 

According to Morest, debate addresses many of the 21st Century Skills identified in the District Strategic Plan, including professionalism, effective communications, teamwork and collaboration.  Debate also fosters an understanding and knowledge of civic and political issues, preparing students to be informed and engaged world citizens.  To learn more about the Stamford Middle School Debate program, please contact the AITE debate coach at  


Stamford Public Schools (SPS) comprises more than 16,000 students, over 1,500 professionals, and 21 schools, including seven magnet schools and three International Baccalaureate sites. SPS has a total of 13 elementary schools, five middle schools and three high schools. The mission of SPS is to prepare each and every student for higher education and success in the 21st century.
SPS is proud that our district is as rich in diversity as it is in talent. We have students from many cultural backgrounds and geographic locations—as demonstrated by the more than 65 different languages spoken in the homes of our families.  SPS offers our students a learning experience rich in cultural diversity and reflective of the global society in which they will work and live.
(CDA) CDA is the premier high school debate league in Connecticut and offers a regular program of extemporaneous, cross-examination debate.  CDA hosts four middle-school events annually, as well as monthly high school debates, from October through March.  More than 400 debaters from some 35 Connecticut schools participate in the organized high school program.   is the world’s largest community of mathematicians, students, and enthusiasts. We accelerate the understanding of our world through mathematics because mathematics drives society and shapes our lives.
has operated in Stamford for over 85 years.  The civic organization’s activities include monthly meetings to debate current events, hosting forums for those who seek to be mayor and awarding scholarships.