Boston students take debating skills to national tourney

Moselle Burke from Dorchester, right, and teammate Maryanne Pasiewicz of South Boston.

Two Boston-area high school seniors, Moselle Burke from Dorchester and Maryanne Pasiewicz from South Boston will participate in the 2017 Debate Tournament of Champions in Lexington, Kentucky, from April 29 to May 1.

Burke and Pasiewicz are the first students to make it to the prestigious competition from the Boston Debate League, which strives to integrate argumentation and competitive debate into the Boston Public School system in order to prepare students for the rigor of a college environment. Pasiewicz and Burke qualified for the nationals based on their performances at regional tournaments during the regular debate season.

This year’s debate, hosted again by the University of Kentucky, is centered around whether or not the United States federal government should substantially increase economic and political relationships with People’s Republic of China.

“It feels like the culmination of my debate experience,” said Burke, 18, who attends Boston Latin Academy. He has been a debater for six years and is college-bound this fall. “[The competition] is going to be a fantastic opportunity to be immersed in the highest level of debate that goes on.”

“The students do a lot of research preparing for the debate,” said Elizabeth DiVito, who works with the league. “I go and see them debate on Friday nights and early Saturday mornings. They’re absolutely lovely, talented, and dedicated to the craft of debate. In a world of alternative facts, the students are all about real facts.”

While both students are excited to see what it’s like at the competition, DiVito said, Burke and Pasiewicz are very much attending the 2017 Debate Tournament in pursuit of victory.

Burke and Pasiewicz have a Go Fund Me page to help pay for travel expenses, which can be found at


Subscribe to the Dorchester Reporter