Webb Club Creates Debate Program for Middle Schoolers
Vivian Webb School sophomore Kathy Duan ’25 wants to bring the thrill of team debate to middle school students across the state.
Duan and her friends have created the Roundtable Debate Academy, so far holding two free virtual debate camps, two tournaments and a political engagement camp for 87 students. Now, RDA leaders have their eyes set on a three short spring events – March 11, April 22 and May 20 – as well as two signature summer programs set for July 3-14 and July 6-13.
“I’m a debater, and I know how expensive debate can be, and that not all schools are fortunate enough to have debate programs,” she said. “Our mission to is to spread access to debate, especially for people who can’t afford it.”
Duan has teamed up with seven classmates at The Webb Schools to expand the debate academy’s reach before summer. The RDA group has an Instagram page, a Facebook page and a website to help connect with more prospective participants.
Leia Albornoz ’25 joined RDA because she loved debate in middle school.
“Most of my application to Webb consisted of what I learned from debate and debate accomplishments I was proud of,” Albornoz said. “Because of debate, I have learned so many life skills that I continue to use in my daily life. Debate teaches so many fundamentals that some students just never get the access to. I hope RDA can reach those students and drive their passion.”
The shorter programs will focus on an aspect of debate while summer will feature a debate camp and a political engagement camp. During the debate camp, students will gather for 90 minutes a day for five days and then hold a one-day debate tournament, following the Middle School Public Debate Program format.
The political engagement camp will run an hour a day for three days, similar to the group’s winter program.
“The winter and summer programs are both focused on the basics of American politics,” Duan said. “For this summer, we will cover the basics of American discrimination in law and policies, with a final action-based project.”
The club, which is advised by Dr. Mark Dzula, also includes Simon Xu ’26, Allen Wan ’26, Ben Madanski ’26, Brianna Stodgill ’26, Catherine Shen ’25, Julie Zhu ’25.