Inquire Now

Interview with Claire Lane ’16 on World Debate Tournament

Claire Lane '16 (far left) stands with her teammates and coach after the October 2015 tournament in Toronto in which she qualified for the World Debate Championship.

Claire Lane ’16 (far left) stands with her SBS teammates and coach after the October 2015 debate tournament in Toronto in which she qualified for the world championship.

Claire Lane ’16 is a six-year senior from Greenfield, Mass., and member of the Stoneleigh-Burnham School Debate and Public Speaking Society. She is one of two SBS students who has qualified for the U.S. team at the World Individual Debate and Public Speaking Championship and will travel to Pittsburgh for the competition March 31-April 4.

Claire will join Clara Swartzentruber ’16 at the world tournament. This is the first time in SBS’s 150-year history that two students have qualified for this tournament. See the list of students who have qualified for and/or competed at the world championship here.

This is the second time Claire has qualified for and competed in Worlds. Last year, she traveled to Hong Kong for the 2015 competition where she was one of 150 competitors from 19 countries, and one of 15 Americans. In Hong Kong, she placed 6th out of 150 in Interpretive Reading and 10th in After Dinner Speaking. Of the 15 American competitors at the championship, she placed 5th overall. Read about Claire’s experience in Hong Kong here.

SBS: How long have you been part of the SBS Debate and Public Speaking Society?

Claire: I got my start in debate when PB (Dr. Paul Bassett) came to judge a debate on the topic, “When is violence ever justified?” pertaining to the John Brown Slave Rebellions in Karen Suchenski’s grade 8 humanities class. After the debate, PB beckoned me over and said that he wanted me to join the debate society. That very next summer, I attended the SBS A Voice of Her Own debate camp, and have been a member of SBS debate ever since.

SBS: How do you feel about Worlds coming up later this month?

Claire: I’m so excited to return to meet old friends and new friends from across the globe! One of the best parts of this tournament is getting to know and bond with people who share a common passion, but have a unique and diverse perspective. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m sure Pittsburg will be a fabulous place to explore as well.

SBS: How are you preparing?

Claire: Many brainstorm sessions and meetings with our devoted coaches, PB (Dr. Paul Bassett) and Cyndee Meese! They are, and always have been, instrumental in helping me prepare, and I feel I owe a lot of my success to their thoughtfulness, constructive feedback, and attention to details. I also am incredibly grateful for all the help that my mother (and SBS Humanities teacher), Karen Suchenski, has dedicated to help coach me, help me edit my speeches, and instill me with a sense of love, pride, and support!

SBS: What are your thoughts on the fact that this is the first time SBS is sending not one, but two students to this competition?

Claire: It’s definitely an amazing feeling to have two Stoneleigh-Burnham students who have worked so hard throughout their middle school and high school careers to be recognized and honored in this way. We have put in so much effort and determination to be where we are today, and I feel extremely grateful to have the opportunity to attend Worlds.

SBS: Do you have any specific goals in mind for the competition?

Claire: My goal is to continue to learn, continue to be inspired, and celebrate this closing chapter as a member of the SBS Debate and Public Speaking Society. I plan on pushing myself outside of my comfort zone to take risks, being a supportive teammate to Clara, and demonstrating how much I’ve learned and changed as a speaker.

SBS: As you look back on your time at SBS, can talk a little about how debate has affected you or has prepared you for the future?

Claire: Debate has been an integral part of my identity at Stoneleigh-Burnham. It has helped me grow in confidence and eloquence. It has helped me learn to say “yes” to new experiences. It has helped me become more cooperative, to be a better listener, and to truly understand the importance of hearing many perspectives. Whether or not I continue debating at the collegiate level, I know my debating skills will come in handy to help me defend my beliefs and be a strong, self-possessed woman. I will definitely not be afraid to participate in class discussions! SBS’s debate program has helped me grow so much as an individual, and I hope to pay it forward in the future by becoming part of a mentorship program to help other young girls discover their voices — and their dreams.