SBS Student Earns Invitation to Prestigious World Debate Competition

A junior at Stoneleigh-Burnham School has been selected for the U.S. team that will compete at the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championship in Hong Kong in April. With this prestigious invitation, Claire Lane of Greenfield, Mass., becomes the 14th Stoneleigh-Burnham student to compete at the world level. At the World Championship, Claire will compete in four categories: Parliamentary Debate, in which she will be paired with someone she has never met, and then will have just 10 minutes with her partner to prepare an argument on an unknown topic; Impromptu Speaking; Interpretive Reading; and After-Dinner Speaking. As a stipulation of the championship, Claire will only be able to present work that has been developed since January 1, 2015.

“I believe there are two main reasons Claire has been selected for the U.S. team: 1) The impressive body of work she has accomplished over the last two years, and 2) Claire’s tireless work ethic,” says Dr. Paul Bassett, head coach of the SBS Debate & Public Speaking Society.

Claire has been a member of three first-place SBS debate and public speaking teams in her past two years. In addition, Claire attended Stoneleigh-Burnham’s summer debate camp, A Voice of Her Own, in which she was able to further develop her craft.

Claire will be working closely with her two debate and public speaking coaches, Dr. Bassett and History Department Chair Karen Pleasant, as often as possible from now until the competition in April. Claire will be accompanied in Hong Kong by her mother, Karen Suchenski, SBS 8th grade Humanities teacher and coincidentally, a staff member of the school’s summer debate camp.

Since 1869, Stoneleigh-Burnham School has been preparing girls for college and the world. SBS is the first and only girls’ school in New England to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. An open house will be held at SBS on April 21. For more information, visit

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