Resolved: Gilman Students Win Policy Debate

Update – December 9, 2022

Danny Gallagher ’23 and James Mackrell ’23 are currently ranked fifth in the country in high school policy debate. Gilman went undefeated debating in their first two national circuit tournaments this season in DC and New York, won the invitation-only senior round robin at the University of Michigan, and reached the quarterfinals of the University of Michigan tournament. With these fall results, the pair has already qualified for the 2023 Tournament of Champions, the premier high school national championship held at the University of Kentucky in April.

Well done again, and best of luck in the championship!


Original Story – February 23, 2022

Danny Gallagher ’23 and James Mackrell ’23 won the varsity policy debate at the Pennsbury Falcon Invitational on Friday, February 4. The tournament is part of the National Circuit for high school debate. This win awarded the Gilman juniors a bid to the Tournament of Champions on April 23. Their topic was whether or not the U.S. federal government should substantially increase its protection of water resources in the United States. They defeated a team from Lexington, Massachusetts, 3-0 in the final round.

Gallagher became interested in debate after attending a camp while he was in middle school. He competed in the Pennsbury Falcon last year. Mackrell got a later start — during his freshman year — and then took a break when COVID shut down debate opportunities.

The pair began debating together this school year and have competed four times as partners so far. “Since I’m new to debate, I mainly practiced spreading (speed reading) any speeches that I would have to read in competition as well as learning more about the policy debate format in general,” Mackrell said. They meet both during and after school hours to discuss strategies.

“I felt really proud of our performance, and especially of James for doing so well in his second-ever major tournament,” Gallagher said.

Mackrell shares the sentiment. “With how good [Danny] is, I believe that if I continue to improve, we can make a splash as a team next year with the new topic that I am better versed in, after having more time to do research over the course of the next few months.”

There’s one thing that’s not up for debate: These two make a great team. Congratulations!