By Jill Fox
For the second time in three years, a debate team from North Broward Preparatory School was recognized for being number one in the country.
Seniors Akash Deo and Sebastian Rabbini were awarded The David P. Baker Award for season-long excellence in policy debate.
Involved with the program for five years, the team’s coach, Shree Awsare, said social distancing required them to debate online, which provided a few obstacles.
“I thought we did really well considering that speech and debate is an oral activity,” he said. “It’s definitely tough to connect with people when you’re doing it from across the screen.”
Rabbini, just a few days shy of 18, resides in Parkland’s neighborhood of Fox Ridge. His brother, Giorgio, was the last student in Florida to win the award in 2018.
“My brother won the trophy a couple of years back, and it is something I am very proud of,” he said.
Rabbini said policy debate allowed him to learn about different topics and become more educated about race and culture.
“Without debate, I wouldn’t be going to the University of Pittsburgh – It changed my life.”
Deo, 18, who lives in Hidden Hammocks Estates in Coral Springs, attributes policy debate for bringing him out of his shell.
“After learning the necessary public speaking skills to express myself in an eloquent fashion, I was more able to communicate with people and express my ideas,” he said.
With policy debate, the team focuses on a single topic over the course of a year, exploring the intricacies of a specific subject matter. This year’s topic of criminal justice reform was chosen after the death of George Floyd.
“We debated a lot of issues related to our policing and sentencing schemes in the United States and what the federal government can do to resolve them, as well as the larger history of movements,” said Awsare, who added the students really pushed themselves regardless of the many setbacks.
Rabbini said at first he was hesitant to join the team.
“I tried debate in middle school, and I was there for one day,” he said. “I asked to go to the bathroom, and I never went back.”
It was years later when his mother suggested he give it another chance.
Funny enough, Deo’s debate career also began when his mom wanted him to “learn how to talk to people.”
“I joined in seventh grade, and I ended up loving debate,” said Deo. “I look forward to continuing it in college and helping out North Broward for years to come.”
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- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She has worked in public relations and television for over 20 years. Fox lives in Parkland with her husband and their two children.
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