Debates on the Rise at ACS

ACS Debate Open will take place April 13-14

Developing abilities for eloquent expression, reasoned justification, and assertion of one's own opinion is among the main academic goals for the students at the American College of Sofia. Those of them who carry the ambition and talent to further develop these skills have different extra-curricular options to do so, one of which is the art of debating.

Undoubtedly, debating has been one of the most popular, sophisticated, and sustainable extra-curricular disciplines at the American College for years. Students who devote their free time and energy to preparing and participating in debate competitions in Bulgaria and around the world are satisfied with their achievements and do consider law a possible professional path.

The skills to persuade, to dispute, and to defend a point with arguments - those make up just some of the charisma of the popular extra-curricular opportunity at ACS – Debates. The other part? The thrill of the competition! Zachary Nickolaev of the 11th grade raised the curtain for us, telling us about his own experience, motivations, and plans related to competitive public speaking. In these disciplines, as we know, the bar is raised high.

The initial interest took upon Zachary in 2017 when he enrolled in the Debate Club. He was impressed with how different the people there seemed, as they were capable and willing to discuss profound topics, were well-rounded, and very well-read. They accepted him in their community, and he, in turn, began to improve his language skills, to refine the way he expressed himself and to develop a flair for victory in important disputes concerning complex themes. At the end of the 9th grade, Zachary applied to and got accepted into the ACS Debate Team. Onwards, a series of qualifications, finals and championship titles followed, that brought pride, but also priceless lessons for competing with experienced debaters in difficult and intricate topics. This path eventually took Zachary to the National Debate Team.

Competitions, tournaments, and championships continued. Zachary reached the eighth finals of the Heart of Europe Debating Tournament in the Czech Republic in 2017, took part in the World Schools Debating Championship in 2018, the Sofia University Open, also in 2018, which he won, and BDA Open 2018 where he emerged a champion. Earlier this year, Zachary and his team reached the finals in the King’s College Schools debate championship, the only non-native English speaking team to do so.

As these and many other tournaments come and go, bringing strong victories and instructive losses, debating grew into a passion for Zachary. To further engage with his new passion, he started volunteering to help organize debate tournaments for university students, which further enhanced his skills. Recently, he earned his Debating Coach certificate, launched his own blog on the topic, and helps classmates prepare for national and international competitions. One such competition is scheduled for May in Austria, hosted by the Vienna Debate Club. Before that, though, on April 13 and 14, the ACS Debate Club will host the 5th annual edition of ACS Debate Open.