Press Release: Wayne Memorial High School Wins Fifth Annual Ethics Bowl


Wayne Memorial High School, Pioneer High School Finalists in 5th Annual Bowl

Ann Arbor, MI – Over 100 high school students gathered on the University of Michigan’s campus last week to discuss all manner of ethical dilemmas--from limiting credit lines for vulnerable communities--to journalists’ responsibility to protect protestor anonymity.

The teams were gathered for the 5th annual Michigan High School Ethics Bowl, which brings high schoolers from across the state together to present and defend their original analyses of case studies. Study questions at this year’s Ethics Bowl ranged from issues of legal privilege to health care decision-making, all written by practitioners in a different fields. Eleven schools from across the state participated in total, including: AA Greenhills, AA Huron, AA Pioneer, Meadow Montessori in Monroe, Oak Park, Portage Northern, Saginaw Arts & Sciences Academy, Saline, Wayne Memorial, Washtenaw Technical Middle College and Washtenaw International High School in Ypsilanti. Over 5o judges from 11 universities and colleges in Michigan also volunteered their time for the Bowl.

The Ethics Bowl is not designed to put one idea against another, but rather to encourage students to consider differing viewpoints and flex their analytical skills on relevant issues.

As Jeanine DeLay, A2Ethics president and Bowl Day organizer puts it: “The Michigan High School Ethics Bowl gives youth interested in philosophy a place to meet and share their ideas. It’s all about discussing where we agree and disagree on contentious ethical issues—and learning how to work on and reason through our best responses individually and together.”  

The two finalists were Wayne Memorial High School’s “The Herd” and Pioneer High School’s “Pioneer Purple”. After a close final round, Wayne Memorial High School was crowned the victors – and the recipients of the Hemlock Cup – for the second year in a row.

David Kangas, the coach for the Wayne Memorial team, said he thought the Wayne team made it to the finals because of an emphasis on listening.

“I think our team made it to the finals in part because they are "generous listeners,” Kangas said. “Often listening in our cultural discourse can become an act of confirming what we already know rather than a means towards seeking out ambiguity or complexity. I think our team and other teams too, listened generously because often I left the cases knowing much more than I did when I walked in.  I participate in Ethics Bowl because the world we adults are leaving young people is full of situations that we simply are not going to argue our way out of- there is simply too much uncertainty, anger and fear. Ethics Bowl gives students and teachers a way to reorient themselves to the humanities that we need.”

Brent Richards, the coach for the Pioneer team, expressed a similar sentiment.

“I think (the Bowl) is a wonderful experience for students to work on their speaking skills, but maybe more importantly their critical thinking skills,” he said. “We clearly are living in a time when civilized dialogue is needed and I'm glad to help these kids develop those skills for the future.”

Along with the Hemlock Cup, the Wayne Memorial High School team also won the right to represent the state of Michigan at the National High School Ethics Bowl from April 20th to the 22nd. Over the past three years, Michigan participants have won the Spirit of the Bowl award as well as placed in quarterfinal and the semifinal matches.

Regardless of the prize, for students from both finalist schools, participating in the Bowl came with its own rewards.

“Ethics allows me to think in a way that I’ve never been able to before,” said Sarah Craig, a senior on the Wayne team. “It allows me to question everything I know and I think that’s a skill I’ll be utilizing a lot in college.”

Ashley Highland, also a senior on the Wayne team, agreed.

“(The Bowl) has truly doubled my confidence. It’s helped me remember that I have a voice and it can be used for change,” said Highland. “I’ll also take away this great impression that we have what it takes to make that change. Seeing the two teams in the finals have such friendly and challenging dialogue gives me hope.”



Founded in 2008, A2Ethics is an all-volunteer, nonprofit dedicated to promoting ethics and philosophy initiatives through events, educational programs and civic collaborations in local communities. Its many projects and activities include partnering with the University of Michigan Dept. of Philosophy Outreach Program in sponsoring the annual Michigan High School Ethics Bowl.

The Michigan Ethics Bowl League includes all high schools participating in the Ethics Bowl. As of 2018, thirteen schools from 6 SE Michigan counties belong to the state League. All Michigan high schools are encouraged to join the state League and the National Ethics Bowl movement.


For more information, visit or contact Jeanine DeLay at [email protected].

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