"To honor Regis in this Centennial year would be to honor its principal student activities, and debate has certainly been one throughout our storied history," said Eric Di Michele, Director of Regis Admissions and longtime Coach of the Hearn, Regis' speech and debate team.
(Pictured: Eric Di Michele in his 31st year as Coach of The Hearn, the Speech and Debate team for Regis High School.)
Debate has been an important part of Regis since the school's inception. In fact, the first recorded formal meeting of the Regis Debating Society took place on November 5, 1915, just a year and two months after Regis opened its doors for the first time. The program is named in honor of Rev. David W. Hearn, S.J., the first President of Regis High School. The first recorded documentation of Hearn's name being associated with the program came in 1938 when the senior branch of speech and debate was called "The Hearn."
Throughout its history, Regis has always been very competitive in the field of speech and debate. Fr. Gerald Rippon, S.J., debate Coach from 1967 to 1983, maintained a very successful program for the duration of his tenure. When Di Michele took over in the Fall of 1983, that success continued. In fact, under Di Michele's guidance, the Hearn will again compete for the State Championship this coming April. If successful, the title will be the 25th earned in the last 31 years.
During Di Michele's tenure at the helm of the Hearn, Regis has had six former Hearn debaters go on to win the National Collegiate championship: four for Harvard, one for Princeton, and one for Yale. Of those, five are returning for this Centennial debate, with three serving as debaters and two serving on the distinguished panel of judges.
(Pictured: Pioneer Public Debaters at Regis High School, as described in the 1919 Regis yearbook.)
All four alumni returning to debate are legendary debaters from their own time at Regis.
"Think of it the way you would think about fantasy sports," said Di Michele. "Imagine getting the debate equivalent of the 1962 Yankees and the debate equivalent of the 1986 Mets pitted against each other in a friendly competition. There's a lot of fun speculation as to how this will play out."
The Hearn Centennial Debate will be a hybrid of public forum and parliamentary style debate. According to Di Michele, the fusion of those two styles will make for a very audience-friendly event.
What is Di Michele most looking forward to at this event? "Having a good time. But also underscoring the importance of real and honest intellectual engagement. This is a great opportunity to encourage students to participate in authentic dialogue."
The Hearn Centennial Debate takes place on April 15 at 7:00 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.). Tickets are $25 each ($10 for current students). A reception will follow the debate. Space is limited. Click here to register for the event.
For more information, please contact Melanie Seltzer, Special Events Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (646) 657-2090. A detailed biography for each of the event’s debaters and Regis alumni judges is provided below.
Above: The 2014 team earned the New York City & Long Island debate championship last month.
"American Political Discourse No Longer Serves the Public Interest."
April 15, 2014 | 7:00 p.m. | RegisterAFFIRMATIVE TEAM
Alexander Blenkinsopp '01 While on the Hearn, Alex was primarily an extemporaneous speaker with some Lincoln-Douglas Debate and Student Congress added to the mix. He attended Harvard for college, where he was president of the parliamentary debate team, vice president of the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA), APDA's 2005 National Champion, and recipient of APDA's Chris Porcaro Award for most top speaker finishes. Alex received a master's degree from Oxford, where he debated for the Oxford Union. There, he reached the semifinals of the World Championship, was second speaker at the European Championship, and was runner-up as the Oxford Union's Debater of the Year. Since then, he has worked for a hedge fund in New York, has had stints at the White House and the Department of the Treasury, and was speechwriter for Elizabeth Warren. He is now at Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, pursuing both an MBA and a Master's in Public Policy. Alex has taught speech and debate in seven countries.
David Kennedy '89 Regis was indisputably tougher than Harvard College or Yale Law School, which David also attended. While at Regis, he became Debate President of the Hearn and Editor-in-Chief of The Crow, yet a tragic "Satisfactory" grade in Music Theory ended his hopes for a career in the performing arts. At Harvard, he did Parliamentary Debate, winning the 1993 World Championships with one teammate, and the 1992 National Championships with another. He also served as a senior editor on Harvard's liberal journal, and was elected to the Harvard Lampoon, for which he was a writer, issue editor, and cook. Following one year in Seoul, South Korea, he went to Yale Law School, where he was an Executive Editor of the Yale Law Journal. After clerking for judges on the Southern District of New York and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, David became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York. Now Chief of the Civil Rights Unit of that office, David brings lawsuits to enforce disability rights, fair housing laws, and voting rights, among other areas. David married his Regis prom date and they now live in the Bronx with their two boys, one of whom is Regis class of 2016 and both of whom, along with his wife, have wisely requested anonymity.
Michael Barton '10 While at Regis, Mike served as the Hearn's Extemp President and the Editor-in-Chief of the Crow, the journal of opinion. Competing primarily in extemp, Mike won the 2010 New York State Championship and the 2010 Harvard Invitational, while also making the finals of the National Catholic Forensic League Grand Tournament, and advancing to the semi-finals of NFL Nationals. This May, he will graduate from Yale University with a double major in Economics and Political Science, though his primary passion remains debating. Mike, who served as the President of the Yale Debate Association and competed in parliamentary debate, was the top speaker at the North American Championships in 2014, a finalist at the Cambridge Inter-Varsity, and a semi-finalist at the World Championship. He is currently ranked as the 2nd and 3rd Place "Team of the Year" for the American Parliamentary Debate Association with two different debate partners. After graduation, Mike will begin work as an analyst at a boutique investment bank in New York.
David Denton '03 David was an LD debater for all four years on the Hearn. Attending Yale for college, David tried to kick his debate problem with an ill-advised stint as a rugby player, but soon decided that parliamentary debate posed a significantly lower risk of major injury. At Yale, David was half of the first American team ever to win the Oxford Union's annual tournament, a finalist at the 2006 World Championships, and the 2007 APDA National Champion. David then got his law degree from Harvard, where he was an Executive Editor of the law review and was named Best Oralist in the final round of the 100th Ames Moot Court competition by Chief Justice John Roberts. After clerking for a judge on the Court of Appeals in Virginia, David clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy at the Supreme Court. David now works for a law firm in Houston.
John Koeltl '63 was appointed United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York on August 11, 1994 and entered on duty on September 9, 1994. He graduated from Georgetown University with an A.B. degree summa cum laude in 1967 and received a J.D. degree magna cum laude for Harvard Law School in 1971, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. From 1971 to 1972, Judge Koeltl was a law clerk to the Hon. Edward Weinfeld United States District Judge, Southern District of New York and from 1972 to 1973 he was a law clerk to Hon. Potter Stewart, United States Supreme Court. He served as an Assistant Special Prosecutor, Watergate Special Prosecution Force, Department of justice from 1973 to 1974. In February 1975 he became an Associate with Debevoise & Plimpton until January 1979 when he became a partner with the firm. He remained at Debevoise & Plimpton until his appointment to the bench in 1994. Judge Koeltl is a member of the American Bar Association, the American Law Institute, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the New York State Bar Association, the Bar Association of the Fifth Circuit, the American Society of International Law, the New York County Lawyers Association, the Federal Bar Council, the Federal Communications Bar Association, the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, the American Judicature Society, Phi Beta Kappa Associates, the Supreme Court Historical Society and the Harvard Law School Association of New York. He is an Adjunct Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. Judge Koeltl is a member of the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules and a former member of the Committee on Court Administration and Case Management of the Judicial Conference of the United States.
Patrick J. Bannon '85 is an employment litigator in Boston and a partner at the law firm, Seyfarth Shaw. A graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School, Patrick won the National Forensic League championship in Lincoln-Douglas debate in 1985 and (with a classmate) the American Parliamentary Debate Association national championship in 1989.
Christopher L. Ray '87 was 2nd in the nation in extemporaneous speaking for Regis and the 1991 American Parliamentary Debate Association National Champion for Princeton. Chris Ray is a litigation partner at Oliver Maner LLP in Savannah, GA where he has practiced law for the past 15 years. Chris’ practice is primarily dedicated to the representation of physicians and hospitals in medical malpractice actions. He has defended approximately 200 malpractice cases over the course of his career and successfully tried more than 20 to a defense verdict. In 2013 Chris was selected by his peers as one of the top 100 attorneys in Georgia (as published in Atlanta Magazine) and has twice been voted the best lawyer in Savannah by the readers of Savannah Magazine. Chris was graduated cum laude from Princeton University with a bachelor of arts in history. Like his maternal grand-father, mother and father before him, Chris received his law degree from Fordham University in New York City. Chris began his legal career as a Judge Advocate officer in the United States Army with the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, GA. Chris is the past Chairman of the Investigative Panel of the Disciplinary Board for the State Bar of Georgia; the President of the Princeton Club of Savannah; and a member of the executive board of Coastal Georgia Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Noel Selegzi '84 has coached the Hunter College High School since 1989. For sixteen years he supported the spread of debate globally through his work at George Soros’s Open Society Foundations. Noel also helped established the International Debate Education Association, with members in over fifty countries. He is currently the director of the Annual Fund here at Regis.
Debate Coach Judges: Jon Cruz of The Bronx High School of Science Lydia Esslinger of Syosset High School LE Hartmann of Nightingale Brother John McGrory of Chaminade High School Julie Sheinman of Stuyvesant High School Brother Michael Tidd of the Delbarton School Joseph Vaughan of Scarsdale High School