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Coleman and Zell Ranked #5 in the Nation
Julie Beckwith

The Altamont School's Public Forum debate team of Isabel Coleman and David Zell is ranked #5 in the nation. Seniors Coleman and Zell were one of the first teams in the country to earn three bids to the Tournament of Champions (TOC)—the nation's most prestigious speech and debate tournament—held at the University of Kentucky in Lexington April 28-30, 2018. They are currently one of only three teams in the nation to secure four gold bids to the TOC.

In addition to their impressive national statistics, Isabel and David are the first team from Altamont ever to qualify for the TOC in Public Forum debate. Entrance to the TOC is earned by placement in regional TOC-bid tournaments held across the country. Depending on the size and prestige of the tournament, a bid may be earned by placing in the octofinals, quarterfinals, semifinals or finals. David and Isabel have earned a bid at every TOC-bid tournament they have competed in, including some of the largest tournaments in the nation in states such as North Carolina, Minnesota, Georgia, and Louisiana.

Dr. Sim Butler of the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences says, "Isabel and David are on quite a roll right now, starting with their top 30 (out of hundreds of thousands) finish at nationals last year and continuing into this year. They are legitimately one of the top debate teams in the nation. The most impressive part is that they are consistent from tournament to tournament and topic to topic, which is really hard to do without a big team sharing the workload."

"There are thousands and thousands of students competing in Public Forum debate every day in this country. Isabel and David's hard work has put them, and Altamont, on the national stage," said English and debate teacher Katherine Berdy. "In addition to their personal success, they coach fellow teammates three days a week and lead a free, weeklong summer debate camp. Their dedication to the art and science of logic, argumentation, and rhetoric is astounding."

Other Altamont Speech and Debate Accomplishments:

Anna Kate Lembke and Sara Catherine Cook placed third in Public Forum debate at the Holy Cross tournament in New Orleans, winning a bid to the Silver Division of the Tournament of Champions. They reached triple octofinals at both Florida Blue Key and Apple Valley in Minneapolis. They are currently ranked near the top 100 in the nation in Public Forum debate.

In their first tournament, 9th graders Maggie Doyle and Hannah Ashraf won the Vestavia Novice Tournament.

Speaker awards are judged individually at debate tournaments. Seventh grader Lewis Rand, in his first tournament, won 6th place at the Vestavia Novice. At Peach State, Sara Catherine Cook won 9th place, Isabel Coleman won 4th place, and David Zell won 3rd place. Helen Tynes placed 4th overall for her speech about social media.

Anna Kate Lembke and Chandi Patel placed second in varsity Public Forum at the St. James Academy tournament in Montgomery.

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