Four other high school teams from around the state competed: James River High School, Atlee High School, Woodberry Forest School and St. Christopher’s School.
The participating Collegiate students are members of the senior Capstone class, Ethics and the Engaged Citizen, which asks them the question, How can we best engage in thoughtful civic discourse and dialogue around some of the most challenging issues facing our society today?
In the Ethics Bowl, student teams compete by presenting a position related to a real-world ethical case, with an emphasis on economics and public policy decision-making. Unlike a traditional debate, Ethics Bowl participants are not assigned opposing views; instead the competition depends on how thoughtfully teams have examined their case and how clearly they can state their position. Cases are compiled by the National High School Ethics Bowl.
After five rounds, the final featured Collegiate and James River High School. The two schools presented their thoughts on Case No. 11, “Billionaire Backfire” and Case No. 14, “Project Prevention.” After a tie was declared, a quick call to the national office to go over tiebreaker rules deemed Collegiate as the champion by a margin of nine points. Students on the winning team were Marcella Leonard-Jackson, J.P. Mintz, Andrew Kauders, Te Markiewicz and Matthew Van Winkle.
Rhiannon Boyd, Collegiate senior Capstone coordinator and teacher of the Ethics and the Engaged Citizen course, coordinated the first statewide high school ethics bowl in 2015. She recognized the extraordinarily hard work the students had done all day and the impact of the competition.
“These students all have a skill set to talk about these cases that are borne out of what happens in the world,” she said. “You are changed because you’ve done this, and we are changed because we’ve witnessed it.”
Every year, Mrs. Boyd has sought to recruit judges whose experience models what’s happening at the national level. This year, 15 judges from the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Philosophy and the University of Richmond participated.
Tony Ellis, Ph.D., a professor at VCU, served as a judge for the competition. He was impressed with the students’ performance.
“This event serves a very useful purpose,” he said. “It helps people learn to think clearly about issues.
His colleague Gene Mills, Ph.D., also a VCU professor, agreed.
“The value of this event is that it develops the students’ ability to think clearly and speak civilly about the issues,” he said
The Collegiate team will now move on to the next round with the hopes of advancing to the National High School Ethics Bowl at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in April 2020.