Abell Salutes: The Baltimore City College Speech and Debate Program

July 2010 / Salutes / Education

For adding successful years to its successful record of 138 years.

The students of Baltimore City College high school have been actively debating in the school’s programs since in 1878. Though the profile of the City College student body has changed through these 138 years, the students’ passion for debate—for public discourse, reasoning, thinking on one’s feet, research, synthesizing—has not. Last year the City College Speech and Debate teams took the championship in all of the three leagues where they compete—a record without precedent. That accomplishment, and their performance in recent competitions, have placed the City College teams in the forefront of America’s best and most prestigious debating organizations. When the team program was revived after being shut down in the mid-1960s amidst the social and demographic changes in the Baltimore City School system, few would have predicted its survival, let alone its flourishing.

  • The program remains the only one of its kind in the region that offers students the full range of debating and oratorical disciplines—including Lincoln-Douglas, Policy, Extemporaneous, Student Congress, Declamation, Mock Trial.
  • Recently the City College Speech and Debate program has formed a mentoring partnership with the Woodrow Wilson debating Program at Johns Hopkins University. The relationship, which includes one-on-one mentoring and the opportunity for our students to enjoy exposure to college-level debate and research, promises to further enrich the program.
  • The program has now expanded to where it serves more than 50 students, and 100 percent of them go on to four-year colleges.
  • City debate team students’ SAT scores continue to be among the highest in the Baltimore City Public School system. The students have established a record for gaining admission into America’s top-tier colleges and universities, including, over the years, Stanford, Harvard, Cornell, Hopkins and Columbia.
  • Beginning in the fall of 2010, the Speech and Debate program is offering its students their own college advisory counselor, expressly for service to students enrolled in the Speech and Debate program.
  • Although funds to support the program day to day are provided by tax-exempt contributions, in the spring of 2008, friends of the program started a fund designed to create a permanent endowment of $500,000 and help ensure the program into perpetuity.

The Abell Foundation salutes the City College Debate Team and its coaches, Patrick Daniels, Rosemary Steck, and Alan Rosenberg—who inherited the City College record of 138 successful years, and keep adding to it!