National Urban Debate League names Baltimore its best

The Baltimore Urban Debate League, a 15-year-old trailblazing program whose students have been lauded locally and nationally for their successes in competitions and the classroom, has been identified as the 2014 Urban Debate League of the Year.

The National Association of Urban Debate Leagues announced the national title last month, according to a release from the organization. 

The city's league, one of 400 in 19 cities, was recognized for its after-school and summer programs, which were called "life-changing," and for being a leader among urban debate leagues across the country.

In Baltimore, students in grades four through twelve from the city's most strangling schools have, "used the sport of debate to help young people find their voice and attain academic success," according to the BUDL. More than 90 percent of BUDL participants graduate from high school, and more than 85 percent go to college each year, the organization said.

“Debate is like the spark that ignites a love of learning,” Pam Block-Brier, executive director of the Baltimore Urban Debate League, said in a statement. “Once our debaters know what it feels like to have the floor, to be listened to and to have their opinions validated and respected, they are hooked on the sport. With that kind of passion and drive as fuel, the possibilities for their futures just open up.”

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