The International Public Policy Forum competition started with hundreds of high school debate teams worldwide, but only the top 16 remain - and Brookfield East High School is among them.
If Brookfield East can win the next round of the contest, the team will win an all-expense paid trip to the finals in New York City from April 12 to April 14.
The global debate competition, now in its 12th year, gives high school students the opportunity to participate in written and oral debates on issues of public policy.
Steve Sexton is the adviser for the Brookfield East team, and said in his five years with the team, this is the furthest the team has come in the competition.
"The last two years, we made it to the round of 32," Sexton said. "The kids are very excited about it."
This year, 213 teams from 34 states and 29 countries submitted qualifying-round essays either affirming or negating a competition topic on a response to climate change.
The essays were evaluated by a review committee, and the top 32 teams were chosen.
Those teams advanced to a single-elimination, written debate contest. Each team was assigned a position and exchanged responses through email. In December, those essays were reviewed by a panel of judges, who selected the top 16 teams.
Brookfield East advanced by a vote of 2-1 over Bellarmine College Preparatory from California.
The Sweet 16 round has begun, with debate teams from 12 states and three countries competing for a spot in the Elite 8. The teams will spend January competing in a round of written debates, with Brookfield East competing against Notre Dame High School in California.
Sexton said his team has two weeks to prepare its position.
"I give them suggestions as to what their argument can be and what logical positions can be taken, but the kids really take off and do the research on their own," he said.
On Feb. 11, the Elite 8 teams will be announced, and those teams will travel to New York City for the International Public Policy Forum finals weekend.
Sexton said students learn valuable skills from competitions like this.
"Through written debate, students learn good organizational and research skills and learn how to be persuasive when they present themselves," he said.
The winning school takes home a $10,000 grand prize and the Bickel and Brewer Cup.
"The kids would use the money most likely to help pay their way to national tournaments," Sexton said.
The International Public Policy Forum was founded by the Dallas- and New York-based Bickel and Brewer Foundation in 2001, and is now jointly administered with New York University. The program is available to all high schools around the world, public and private, for free.
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