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Sophie Hathaway ’18 Succeeds at World Debate Competition

Sophie Hathaway thanks Karen Suchenski for traveling to Sydney with her.

Sophie Hathaway ‘18 has returned from a phenomenal performance at the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championship in Sydney, Australia. A member of the U.S. team, she was one of 120 competitors from 12 countries competing at the world level in Sydney April 7-12.

Hathaway, a member of the Stoneleigh-Burnham Debate and Public Speaking Society, earned 6th place in After Dinner Speaking and 12th place in Interpretive Reading.

The SBS community welcomed her back to campus and congratulated her at Housemeeting on Tuesday, April 18.

Dr. Paul Bassett, head coach of the SBS Debate & Public Speaking Society, lauded Hathaway for her focused preparation and stellar performance. He also thanked Head of School Sally Mixsell and the school administration, faculty, and students for being supportive of the debate and public speaking program at SBS.

“Thank you for supporting our girls in finding and using their voices,” he said.

Hathaway was accompanied on the trip by faculty member Karen Suchenski, a debate coach, an 8th grade Humanities teacher at SBS, and staff member of the school’s summer debate camp, A Voice of Her Own.

Before the trip, Hathaway worked closely with her coaches to prepare for the world competition.

“She’s grown a lot from the experience,” Dr. Bassett said. “She was already an impressive speaker, but the experience of competing on the world stage has really upped her game.”

Hathaway  joins an elite group of world competitors from SBS dating back to 1988. She is the 16th student to compete on the world stage. See the full list here.

Sophie qualified for the world competition after competing at the International Independent School Public Speaking League tournament in West Vancouver, B.C., Canada in October 2016.

Hathway is a day student from Greenfield, MA, who has attended Stoneleigh-Burnham since 7th grade. She said her rhetoric teachers Dr. Bassett and Cyndee Meese saw her potential as a debater and public speaker when she was in middle school and have motivated her to step out of her comfort zone to achieve success.

Sophie Hathaway in Syndey.