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LEAF Academy Students Crowned Champion of International Public Policy Forum Debate Contest

New York – A team of students from LEAF Academy of Bratislava, Slovakia, bested a field of high schools from around the globe Saturday, winning the 17th Annual Brewer Foundation/New York University International Public Policy Forum (IPPF) debate competition and a $10,000 grand prize. The final debate was held at The Harold Pratt House in New York City.

The teams that competed at the IPPF Finals on Saturday, April 21, were the final “Elite Eight” teams to emerge from a field that began with 161 teams representing high schools in 17 countries and 30 U.S. states. The teams debated the IPPF topic: “Resolved: International climate accords for greenhouse gas emissions should adopt binding enforcement mechanisms.”

LEAF Academy was named the IPPF World Champion after arguing in the negative. The team was coached by Branislav Fečko-Čegiň, and the team members were Matej Čerman, Jasna Cifrová, Lucia Jaďuďová, Timofej Kožuchov, Sára Lovecká, and Samuel Ján Nvota. The team receives a $10,000 grand prize ($5,000 for the school’s debate program and $5,000 in individual scholarships).

"These student debaters put in months of hard work to achieve the title of IPPF World Champion," said William A. Brewer III, partner at Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors and founder of the IPPF. "They impressed the judges with their superior research, writing and advocacy skills.”

Brewer added: “The students dedicated much of their school year to understanding one of the most significant and far-reaching public policy issues of our time: climate change.”

The runner-up team, William Mason High School of Mason, Ohio, receives a $3,500 prize. Coached by Nihar Rama, the team members were Suraj Komatineni, Atneya Nair, Alex Wang, and Rahul Ramesh.

The top eight teams competing in the IPPF Finals represented schools in five U.S. states, China, Taiwan and Slovakia. The IPPF Finals give students the opportunity to participate in oral debates in front of some of the world’s foremost experts in debate, business, law and politics.

The proceedings were judged by a panel including Brewer; NYU President Emeritus John Sexton; Reid Detchon, Senior Advisor for Climate Solutions at the United Nations Foundation; Jon Paul Lupo, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Mayor de Blasio's Office; Will Baker, Director of the NYU Global Debate Fund; David Huston, Director of Debate at Colleyville Heritage High School; and Christina Tallungan, Director of Debate at Notre Dame High School.

Founded in 2001, the IPPF is the only competition that gives high school students from around the globe the opportunity – for free – to engage in written and oral debates on issues of public policy.

The 2017-18 competition began in October 2017, as 161 teams submitted qualifying round essays on the topic. Judges selected the “Round of 64” teams, who then participated in a single-elimination, written debate contest ― volleying essays back and forth via e-mail. From October to March, the field was narrowed from 64 teams to 32, then 16, and finally to the eight teams that competed in oral debate at the IPPF Finals in New York.

In New York, LEAF Academy advanced over Stuyvesant High School from New York in the quarterfinal round and East Mountain High School from New Mexico in the semifinal round, before facing William Mason High School in the Finals.

The semifinalist teams — Concordia International School Shanghai from China and East Mountain High School from New Mexico — each win $1,500. Quarterfinalists each win $750.

The IPPF also announced the 2018-19 topic, “Resolved: U.S. abdication of international leadership creates dangerous global instability.”

The “Elite 8” teams participating in the IPPF Finals:

Concordia International School Shanghai from Shanghai, China

East Mountain High School from Sandia Park, New Mexico

LEAF Academy from Bratislava, Slovakia

Stuyvesant High School from New York, New York

Taipei American School from Taipei, Taiwan

The Davidson Academy of Nevada from Reno, Nevada

Westfield Academy from West Hartford, Connecticut

William Mason High School from Mason, Ohio

About the IPPF and the Brewer Foundation:

The IPPF was founded in 2001 by the Brewer Foundation, and is now jointly administered with New York University. The program is available to all high schools around the world – public and private – for free. The IPPF is endorsed by leading forensic agencies, such as the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues, the International Debate Education Association, the Impact Coalition, Associated Leaders of Urban Debate Leagues, and the National Debate Coaches Association.

The Brewer Foundation is a private, non-profit organization funded by companies, individuals and the national litigation firm of Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors. With offices in New York and Dallas, the Foundation has achieved widespread recognition for its efforts to create, fund and manage a variety of educational outreach programs.

Visit the IPPF at,, or on Twitter at @IPPF1. The hashtag used for the IPPF Finals was #IPPFDebate.


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