The morning started off nicely enough; the plan was to have three rounds of each of the events, which broken down into middle school, high school, novice, and experienced divisions. The tournament began, and students from the ten competing schools rallied to the assigned rooms to act, speak, and awe.
At some point, rounds began to lag behind; ballots returned to the tallying room later and later, round assignments were announced less and less punctually, and murmurs of dissatisfaction began to circulate. What was the holdup? No one knew. The participants pressed forward. BWYA students returned excitedly from each round, recapping their successes, failures, and the most noteworthy quirks of their opponents. Excitement was in the air.
However, as the clock cruised past midday and into the afternoon, the lagging slumped to a standstill. Some events had been done three times; others had been done once. At 1:30, the impromptu debate rounds that were supposed to start…didn’t. Coaches and judges returning from the judging quarters were swarmed by students and questioned, but these adults were as about as informative as the airport personnel talking to Kevin's mom in "Home Alone."* There were simply no answers for the halt in progress.
The students from Beijing World Youth Academy, however, did not lose heart. They killed the time with playful banter, SAT cramming, and naps. Not once did they sneak away from the tournament without telling their coaches. The students stayed positive, perhaps in anticipation of the payoff that endurance so often brings.
At some point in the late afternoon – after multiple schools had pulled out of the tournament for the sake of time (and weakness) – the championship rounds began. Several BWYA participants eagerly sat, ready to perform; others flocked to watch, support, and cheer. The most problematic of the events – high school debate – had a massive following as two DP1 students stomped through the controversially-planned semi-final round into the 7:50 p.m. championship match to debate the topic, “Should the teams who stay to the end of the tournament receive the trophies of the schools that left?”
No, no. Just kidding. The topic was “Parents should be held responsible for unlawful activities of their children,” and the debate was fierce but to the point. Every member of the BWYA gathered in the room, not only in anticipation of seeing victory achieved right before their very eyes, but also in anticipation of witnessing the final moments of the tournament expire in an exciting, climactic moment. They were not disappointed.
The debate finished. Everyone still present (most of the BWYA team, the BCIS officiating crew, and the two kids who’d debated in the final round against Roman and Richard) stood in the cafeteria as the final debate champions were announced. They were: the aforementioned Richard and Roman, who, in a 720-minute blink of an eye, grabbed first place in high school debate to join the other BWYA award-winners: Jessy and Alice, who achieved first-place honors in high school duet acting; Chris, who nailed second place in high school oral interpretation; Rebecca and Julie, who obtained second place in high school duet acting; Rebecca, the third-place place-holder in high school original oratory; Hector and Maxim, who nabbed third place in middle school novice debate; and Sunny, an oral interpreter who got third in middle school…oral interpretation.
The day had been long, but to the victors went the spoils, who withstood not only the test of competitive opposition but also the test of time. Well done, BWYA forensics students! Thank you, BWYA volunteer judges! Rest happily, BWYA speech and debate supervisors! As the sun set on March 22, 2014, it was true: hard work had paid off.
*There was originally a much more offensive simile here; e-mail me if you are over 18 and/or want to hear it.