HomeCampusEthics Bowl preps for Santa Cruz regional competition

Ethics Bowl preps for Santa Cruz regional competition


Imagine a classroom environment where students answer questions not encompassing topics taught every day in school, like the Civil War or the Pythagorean theorem.

Is it possible to separate a place from its historical significance?

Is it immoral or unjust for states to make it illegal for teachers to strike?

Does viewing injustice make you responsible to do something about it?

If any of these questions caught your eye, there’s a corner of Carmel High School that may pique your interest.

The National High School Ethics Bowl competition allows students to analyze real-life ethical issues, taking turns to discuss complex dilemmas in front of a panel of judges. Cases given to competitors cover a variety of dilemmas ranging from moral and ethical issues to policies put forth by modern politicians. This year, the CHS ethics bowl team will be put to the test as they travel to U.C. Santa Cruz for a Jan. 11 regional competition.

Throughout the season, students are given cases to systematically examine and are scored on their ability to think rigorously and engage respectfully throughout the competition. The winners of the regional competitions across the country move on to the University of North Carolina, where teams compete for the national championship.

“I think of ethics sometimes as a philosophy debate club,” comments Ethics Bowl vice president Cassie Gorman. “It’s a lot about moral quandaries that we face in our everyday lives.”

Gorman cites that the club could be seen as a smaller, closer group of students who love to discuss a similar type of topics taught inhead coach Marc Stafford’s Philosophy class.

Last year, CHS fielded not one but two Ethics Bowl teams and both finished with an undefeated 4-0 record in preliminary rounds, allowing them to continue into the playoffs. That senior-majority team went on to defeat teams that would later move on to the championship. One year later, Carmel will field a completely brand new seven-member team led by senior president Libby Lambert.

“I’m excited for this year because we have a few freshmen stepping up and kids who just do the most and try to get the best answer for every case,” Lambert says.

In addition to the team captain, students like senior Alex Faxon, Gorman and freshman talent Cole Prekoski are often prepping for competition in Stafford’s classroom.

Previous Ethics Bowl leader and recent graduate Zach Ahern (left) converses with senior Gaby Borges at last year’s Santa Cruz regional competition. Photo by BRUCE HAASE

With only two regional competitions in California, the U.C. Santa Cruz northern regional proves extremely strong. Teams across the country participate in the North Carolina Parr Center for Ethics sponsored competitions, with regional events held in major cities like Seattle, Houston, Chicago and more.

“This year the amount of teams at the regional is growing off the charts,” says Stafford, who also teaches AP U.S. History and Philosophy.

Stafford has been the coach of Ethics Bowl for four years, and this is the team’s third year at the NHSEB regionals. This year there could be as many as 34 high schools participating.

Much excitement and anticipation is building for the team’s upcoming competition, and they’ll continue to prepare until the team departs for Santa Cruz in mid-January.

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