An Ethical Debate

The Spartanburg High School Ethics Bowl Team brings home the gold


Photo courtesy J. Beeson

The SHS Ethics Bowl Team receives their trophy with their coaches.

Caroline Colbath, Entertainment Editor

After a season of studying and preparing their arguments, the Ethics Bowl team won the South Carolina State Championship on Jan. 21, at Wofford College.

Ethics Bowl is a club in which its members discuss ethical problems and defend an argument or claim, winning points in a match by providing both their solutions to a problem and their response to other solutions and questions.  This makes them much more than just a debate team.

The cases discussed promote important ethical questions and introduce useful life skills, including being able to debate a topic in a civilized manner and defend an argument. The program, developed by the Parr Center for Ethics, helps foster collaboration and logical thinking when involving difficult questions and issues.

The Ethics Bowl team at Spartanburg High School has existed for five years, and English teachers Susan Plonski and Erin Hubbell have been the coaches since the club’s founding.

Plonski loves being a part of the team and enjoys coaching the students.

“My favorite part is the state championship. The members of Ethics Bowl have spent months studying 15 tough cases, so when we spend a long day competing against schools across the state, it is rewarding to see all of their hard work pay off,” Plonski said. “This year was especially exciting because we were in person again after competing virtually for two years.”

The Ethics Bowl members study diligently in order to become well versed in all cases, as they don’t know which one they will have to debate. The discussions allow high schoolers to take part in civil discussions about various ethical topics, which they will experience much more in the future.

Avery Gilley (10) has been a part of Ethics Bowl for a year, and enjoys the debate and challenge that the program provides to him and his peers.

“I think it is important for high school students to participate in Ethics Bowl because it teaches them to think critically and introduces them to many interesting viewpoints on many complicated issues,” Gilley said.

As the cases discussed may not have definite answers, the team members must defend their argument while also having an open mind.

Madison Cooksey (12) has been part of the Ethics Bowl for her junior and senior year and has enjoyed discussing cases that deal not only with ethical questions about humans, but ethical environmental practices as well.

“My favorite issue that we discussed in the Ethics Bowl this year was called ‘Not in My Back Yard.’ Our team advocated for the common good of protecting the entire earth over the beauty of a specific section of the earth,” Cooksey said. “The Ethics Bowl is a unique experience in which you get to spend an entire day discussing ethical and moral issues. Participation in the Ethics Bowl allows students to become more open-minded and help keep them engaged in the uncertain world around them.”