AHS Ethics Bowl Excels in NHSEB Annual Competition

AHS Ethics Bowl Excels in NHSEB Annual Competition

Arcadia High School’s (AHS) Ethics Bowl team secured a win out of the three rounds they took part in at the annual National High School Ethics Bowl (NHSEB) competition on Feb. 3. Held at Chapman University, the competition showcased the participation of many high schools in Southern California.

The NHSEB competition is an event where students collaborate and engage in discussions on real-world ethical dilemmas. The program’s objective is to enhance ethical awareness while encouraging students’ critical thinking on these issues, fostering fruitful discussions that may lead to possible solutions.

The team upon arriving at Chapman University.

This year’s team consisted of six students: seniors Max Cheung and Weijun Huang, followed by juniors David Bondarescu, Caitlyn Chau, Ronald Fan, and Annie Jiang. Prior to the competition, the team held meetings during and after school to prepare collaboratively.

“As a team, we went to the Arcadia library a day before [the competition] and practiced some cases,” stated Cheung, president of AHS Ethics Bowl. Besides preparing with his teammates, he also dedicated time to “get in the mindset of fighting a righteous but uphill battle.”

Huang added, “Individually, I study the case and predict possible questions we will get out of the 16 cases.” 

AHS team pre-tournament.

The team arrived at the campus promptly at 8 a.m. in time for registration. Mr. Logan Maertens, Ethics Bowl’s adviser, met with the team shortly after. Upon entering the main hall where breakfast was provided, Ethics Bowl teams from various schools were gathered together in the room. The space bustled with activity as each team engaged with one another and prepared for the upcoming tournament rounds. Arcadia’s team reviewed their documents and cases one last time before heading into the first round of competition.

Each round consisted of two cases, and both teams took turns presenting their argument for their assigned cases. Much like subsequent rounds, the two teams sat on either side of the room, facing three judges. After the moderator stated a list of rules and instructions, the presenting team was given two minutes to read their case and confer with each other, and six minutes to convey their stance and reasoning. The opposing team then had two minutes to confer amongst themselves, and three minutes to address their comments or concerns. Another three minutes was given to the presenting team to respond to the comments. After this, judges were given the opportunity to have a 10-minute question and answer session with the presenting team. 

In the first round, AHS went against Harvard-Westlake High School. Both teams introduced themselves then displayed exceptional analytical skills as they presented their cases. Unfortunately, the judges’ votes resulted in a loss for AHS. 

In between rounds, Mr. Maertens offered valuable advice on areas of improvement. Additionally, he inspired the team, generating enthusiasm for the upcoming rounds.

“I think that the competitors enjoyed themselves; they learned from the experience. That’s a reward in itself,” said Mr. Maertens.

Round two of the competition against San Marino High School.

As the team moved on to the next round, they were up against San Marino High School. Both teams expressed their views in a respectful tone. Each team member was well spoken as they bounced off of each other’s questions and comments. This round, the judges declared AHS as the winning team.

In the third and final round, AHS competed against Science Academy STEM Magnet. Though our team felt prepared as they were faced with a familiar case, Science Academy ultimately won this round. To close off all three rounds of the tournament, team members congratulated each other and reflected on their performance. 

“As a team we found lots of natural talent and areas of improvement to work on before the next Ethics Bowl competition,” commented Cheung.

“We gave the juniors chances to practice,” said Huang. “We think it’s a great opportunity to train them, so they can get more experience next year.”

Being a first-time competitor this year, Bondarescu shared, “Looking back, it was very ‘in the moment’, with very little time to think. But it was not nearly as stressful as I was expecting it to be. Everyone was extremely supportive and encouraging.” 

“The competition really values students to be able to see complexity in the world, and to see the moral quandaries that come up in the cases,” said Mr. Maertens. “Being able to assert a thoughtful, ethical position in the face of those cases while considering all the possible conclusions that you could come to [is the] core of what competitors need to be able to do.” 

Round three of the competition against Science Academy STEM Magnet.

Though the event was a little behind schedule, all teams still had a chance to enjoy sandwiches for lunch back at the main hall. Semifinalists were mentioned shortly after, which included the schools Polytechnic School, Harvard-Westlake, Riverside Poly, and Canyon Crest. After the finals round, Harvard-Westlake was ultimately named champion, with Polytechnic as the runner-up.  

Throughout the rounds, the team illustrated outstanding teamwork and sharpened their public speaking skills as they collectively developed ideas from scratch in a short period of time. Congratulations to all Ethics Bowl team members, and best of luck for next year’s tournament!

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