Never count Jordan Schwartz.
The rising senior at Alliance High School is a hard worker. He is also a tough competitor, making headlines several times during his career at the schools of Alliance City.
In 2019, he won the Canton Repository Regional Spelling Final and went on to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. In 2020, he earned a perfect score of 36 on the ACT college preparatory exam.
After:Alliance’s Jordan Schwartz Scores Perfect 36 On ACT Exam
After:Alliance teenager hopes to succeed
Last month, he landed an even bigger jackpot. Schwartz was named National Champion of the National Speech & Debate Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky.
He won his title in the improvised debate category of the event which was held from June 12 to 17.
Editor’s note: In the video pasted below, check out Jordan Schwartz’s participation starting at 7:12.
Schwartz has been debating for two years and is a member of the High School Alliance Speech and Debate Team. At the competition in Louisville, his team included his high school coach, Bob Duncan, and Duncan’s son, Robert, a debate veteran.
Young Duncan was on the staff at Louisville High School in Stark County before graduating in 2020. He is now majoring in political science at Ohio State.
Bob Duncan, a teacher for 33 years, has coached the debate team for two years.
“This was my second year on the AHS Speech and Debate Team,” Schwartz said. “The team was started my sophomore year by (Duncan and Chris Kamp). I joined the first meeting of interest in the summer of 2020 on Zoom and fell in love with the activity soon after.
Pressure during the national debate
“It’s definitely gotten easier over the last two years,” he said. “For me personally, competing on stage is something I’ve loved doing since middle school, with spelling and geography bees, so I’m used to the pressure.”
And it’s intense. At the start, 859 young people were in competition. Schwartz said he remains focused on the job at hand.
“Each round the numbers kept going down, but I figured it would end eventually,” he said. “It was only once in the top 11 that I thought I had a chance to win, but even then my goal was to get on the top 6 podium. Making the final was beyond of my imagination. Winning was something else.
His strategy was simple, given the size of the contest. “After doing knockout rounds, the goal was to treat each round as the last and see how far I could go,” he said.
Bob Duncan said his team prepares as if they were athletes.
“The debate is very similar to many sports,” he said. “I believe the #1 mindset I hope to exemplify is confidence, as that is perhaps the most important mindset I instill in our competitors.
“Just like a long-distance runner who has conditioned well in the off-season and built up stamina during training, when he gets to the starting line and takes off with the peloton, he can concentrate on his Similarly, a debater who has prepared, researched, and practiced beforehand is prepared to support and defend their points during a round.The best way to build confidence is to be well prepared.
The team also has training like athletes.
“We have practice debates, rebuttal exercises and cross-examination exercises,” Bob Duncan said. “Sometimes practice debates are fun and lighthearted with questions like, ‘Is a hot dog a sandwich?’ or “Is a Pop-Tart a Ravioli?” A category of debate such as improvisational debate, like its speech counterparts, improvisational speech in the United States and international improvisational speech, requires contestants to keep abreast of political news and world affairs. “
In other types of debates, contestants are given the topics in advance, allowing for research and evidence gathering. “During our practice of the Lincoln-Douglas debate, we also spend a great deal of time understanding logic and logical fallacies, as well as studying the philosophy of philosophers throughout human history,” Bob Duncan said.
Schwartz gets a lot of help from his friends
Schwartz said the two Duncans had specific roles at the national event.
“I’m quite proud of the setup we had to prepare for each lap. Robert, who is the son of Mr Duncan and one of my coaches, ranked high in the extemp debate at the Nationals in 2020. He brought his expertise to prepare each subject in the best possible way” , Schwartz said. “Earlier in the tournament, we had a table full of debaters from northeast Ohio working on either side of the resolution. Later, once I was the only remaining contestant in our group, I worked alone with my coaches.
“Typically we would all collaborate to write the opening speech and then Mr. Duncan would start creating a block file (debate lingo for a collection of answers to things the other side might say) while Robert and I were working on the timing of the speech and fine-tuning it. We usually ended up with a two-page speech and an additional six pages of evidence to use in the round. No doubt the process is frenetic and a little crazy, but it worked every time.
Robert Schwartz has worked with Schwartz since his earliest days in the business.
“It didn’t take me long to notice his potential in debate and how quickly his intelligence would transfer to an activity like this,” Robert Schwartz said.
“From the start, Jordan worked harder than anyone I know to improve his art and skills, which led him to qualify this year. He left his first season as a national tournament substitute and third at the State Speech and Debate Tournament. Although he didn’t have the same run this year, Jordan made it known that we would work even harder to prepare for the National Tournament. It’s less our qualities as a coach that got him to this point and clearly, his tenacity and dedication that got him to the final stage.
Neither Schwartz nor Bob Duncan thought this level of success would come so quickly. The Alliance team had a national qualifier their first year of competition in Matthew Eversdyke. Duncan said returning “in year two is truly beyond our wildest dreams”.
“We are extremely proud of the accomplishments of Jordan and this entire team,” said Bob Duncan. “One of the biggest challenges in starting a new team is simply making other students aware that the team exists. This challenge is especially true of speaking and debating because it’s not about “a spectator activity. I’m encouraged by the spotlight Jordan has put on our team as other students, especially new freshmen, choose which extracurricular activities they’d like to participate in.”
Bob Duncan said Schwartz believes in debate and strives to help his team succeed.
“Far beyond his success on the awards scene, there is the pride we feel in the level of class with which Jordan Schwartz conducts himself,” said Bob Duncan. “Because of his success, there is no ego that drives him but rather a desire to strengthen his team and debate as a whole. He is truly a team captain who is always ready to help everyone else on the team in practice or at a tournament before helping himself.
“When I think back to every award ceremony in the tournament when his name was announced as the winner, his first action was to shake his opponent’s hand, not to run for a huge trophy. He accepts victories as defeats with grace. He networks with other teams to grow the debate business, not his own personal success. He willingly shares his own personal in-depth research and blocks files to enhance the quality of debates without fear of bolstering the competition.
The coach added that Schwartz has worked with competitors from schools such as Hathaway Brown, Solon, University School and Kenston in areas outside of Cleveland to host a free and fair summer camp open to all novice debaters.
Schwartz is also spending time this summer preparing for his senior cross country season. Photos from various members of the Alliance National Debate Prep Team showed the teenager taking a run to relax ahead of his final day of competition.
He also spends time with his father, Gary, and mother, Gwen, during college visits. So far he has visited Swarthmore, Columbia, Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Harvard, Brown and Rice. He seems to have a different academic background than his sister, Julia, another scholar in the Schwartz family who passed the ACT. While Jordan has mostly visited schools in the eastern United States, Julia Schwartz attends Pomona College in California.