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Follett Challenge_MS 343_12035 (1)

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| Case Study South Bronx Middle School debate program gives high-risk students "superpowers." 2018 Follett Challenge Semifinalist Thanks to debate coach Lola Dupuy and targeted instruction teacher Jeremy St. Romain, students from one of the nation's highest-need school districts are excelling in debate tournaments and building 21st-century skills for lifelong success. Members of the champion debate team say that debate gives them "superpowers," because they gain the confidence to vocalize their opinions. Through the intricate aspects of debate, these students describe how they acquired the newfound conviction that their opinions matter and deserve to be heard. MS 343's "Why We Debate" project was recently named a semi-finalist in the 2018 Follett Challenge, earning $30,000 in products and services from Follett. Why debate? For decades, District 7 in the South Bronx has been one of the lowest-performing districts in New York City. The students face multiple challenges including living in an area of high gang activity, crushing poverty and drug use. Eager to change the status quo, MS 343 school administrators and teachers began searching for a new way to build skills and confidence in their students. They found it in the NYC Debate Program, a collaboration between the Urban Debate League and the Middle School Quality Initiative – a program with a proven track record of success in improving the academic experience for students in struggling schools. "Principal Gassetto and Mrs. Cooper, our speech and language teacher, approached Ms. Dupuy and asked her to coach a team," said St. Romain, who works as Director of Community Involvement at the school. "Ms. Dupuy had participated in debate and mock trial very competitively in high school. We jumped at the chance." "The results of our efforts far exceeded our expectations," said Dupuy, Special Education teacher and debate coach. "Students who had been reluctant to even raise a hand in class learned to speak with confidence and authority and got the experience of being a part of a winning team." MS 343 SOUTH BRONX, NY

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