On February 3, 2023, Concord Academy's Debate and Ethics Bowl Club competed in the annual New England Regional High School Ethics Bowl at Tufts University. Drawing from their research, collaboration, and a packet of pre-distributed case studies, the Debate Team presented perspectives on specific moral dilemmas throughout the course of three rounds and fielded questions from a panel of judges.

CA's Ethic Bowl involvement was headed by co-heads Drew Michaeli ’25 and Leo Cunningham ’25. When Drew and Leo first joined the Debate Club in 2021, they found that it had been pummeled by the COVID-19 pandemic. "In our region, there's a bunch of private schools that have debates with one another," said Leo. "So over COVID, we lost that." The two assumed leadership during their sophomore year, and have since worked tirelessly to revitalize the debate scene at CA. "We've just been working together to bring about glory to the club," said Leo.

In 2022, Leo and Drew introduced Ethics Bowl to the club. "Ethics Bowl isn't actually debate, but it helps you construct an argument and learn to ask questions. So we thought it [would] be a good idea to add it," said Drew. Preparation is key and each member of the club researches a few specific case questions in the weeks leading up. However, competitors can never exactly anticipate the competition itself—and as such, have to consistently adapt to each topic, round, and question. "Usually you'll kind of know what's coming, so you can definitely prepare," said Leo. "But…you don't know 100 percent what everyone's going to ask. So that makes it a bit more fun." At the same time, constructing an Ethics Bowl argument is an intricate process, one that requires participants to draw on their ingenuity, logic, and creativity. "Stating your points [arguments] initially, going through [your] three main points, coming back to them, referring to them—it's a big thing," said Drew.

This year's Ethics Bowl started out a little rough for CA’s team, as they were matched up against Bedford High School’s A Team in the very first round—a veteran and one of the best teams in the nation. "We were [still] warming up, and getting used to what the competition had to offer," said Calvin Johnson ’25, another original Ethics Bowl participant. But the team was able to turn things around during the second round, where the team presented a firm case for the responsibility of social media companies in combating misinformation. Specifically, they cited how even constructive debate and scientific evidence rarely helped debunk conspiracy theories and instead required direct platform intervention.

The club's best showing came during their third round. The club's best showing, however, came during their third round, where they were asked if public schools were responsible for students' dietary choices. The team put on a tantalizing display of argumentative cohesion, arguing that the education of healthy eating habits and awareness was equally crucial to other subjects covered in traditional education, while also noting that the financial benefits of preventing diet-related food risks was well worth the additional cost local governments would take on. Throughout the round, they maintained a cohesive, consistent argument despite intense opposition. ”Everyone was flowing, question after question. We all just clicked very well," said Leo.

Ultimately, the team placed top eight in the region, with only the top four teams moving on to the semi-final competition. But this year's Ethics Bowl has proven to be a formative experience. "We were very competitive," said Drew. "I think our team is happy with our performance." While the team felt as though they experienced some questionable decisions from the judges, especially in the later rounds, they also noticed a marked improvement from last year's competition. Calvin attributed this improvement to the club's increased preparation, thought, and practice in each of their cases. The team was also excited about their membership, as they entered this year's Ethics Bowl with a large number of ninth graders, who were the competition’s only first-year competitors.

As for next year, Debate Club is hoping to build on its existing growth. The team hopes to keep gaining new members, who will be crucial in ensuring a successful season. They also hope to increase its array of resources. ”[It] might be interesting to see if there's someone we can reach out to that is knowledgeable about philosophy that can help us a little bit,” said Drew. And they are already eyeing the 2025 Ethics Bowl. ”We had two very close rounds this year. I think if we make those rounds wins next year—which they very well could have been this year if we had maybe made our points a little better—then I think we could very well achieve our goal," said Calvin.

Whether you're looking to dive into the specifics of morality, explore some of the modern world's most pressing ethical dilemmas, or engage with one of CA's hottest up-and-rising clubs, one thing's for sure: Debate and Ethics Bowl is the place to be.