Students at East Ridge High School in Woodbury are making a run for glory on the debate front.

But they have seasoned competition from around the world, including St. Paul.

The team recently advanced to the Top 32 round of the International Public Policy Forum — a competition pitting high school students in written and oral public-policy debates.

Participants are exchanging written essays affirming or negating the topic: "Resolved: Genetically modified organisms are essential to global food security."

In November and December, East Ridge students traded statements with Texas students from DeBakey High in Houston in the Round of 64. After prevailing in that matchup, they now will face students from North Allegheny Senior High of Wexford, Penn., in a contest that runs from Jan. 6-29.

"Sweet 16" pairings will be announced on Feb. 4.

The only other Minnesota school to advance to the Top 32 was St. Paul Academy and Summit School (SPA). SPA will compete against Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy of Lindon, Utah. SPA's team includes sophomores Adnan Askari, Numi Katz, Ben Konstan and Emilia Topp-Johnson.

Last year's SPA squad qualified for the Elite 8 finals in New York City, where the competition switches to oral arguments.

Anthony Lonetree