Shae Thomas

Instructor - Public Forum

Shae Thomas was a four-year Public Forum debater at Ramsay High School in Birmingham, AL. She participated in Birmingham's SpeakFirst program, serving as co-captain of the SpeakFirst team in her senior year. In her junior year, Shae and her partner qualified for the NSDA national tournament, becoming only the second PF team from SpeakFirst to accomplish that feat. Shae is attending the University of Alabama at Birmingham, majoring in Criminal Justice. She believes that debate is extremely valuable in developing in-depth analytical and communication skills. 


RJ Pellicciotta

Instructor - Lincoln-Douglas

RJ Pellicciotta has coached the speech and debate team of Cary Academy in Cary, North Carolina, for 16 years. He also teaches Advanced Economics. His Lincoln-Douglas Debaters have placed in the top four at both NSDA Nationals and NCFL Grand Nationals. Under his leadership, Cary Academy has been recognized as an NCFL Debate School of Excellence in 2016 and an NSDA Debate School of Excellence in 2017. Mr. Pellicciotta's LD Debaters have won or reached the final round at major invitationals hosted by Wake Forest, George Mason, the University of Florida, and Myers Park High School. His LD debaters have been equally successful at the state and local levels, winning the North Carolina state championship in 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2014.  Mr. Pellicciotta was the guest editor of a Rostrum issue devoted to Lincoln-Douglas debate. RJ is excited to share his expertise with students at CDC!


Adele Vergis teaches American Government and AP Government at Upper Arlington High School while also coaching the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Team and the Mock Trial Team. Adele participated in Lincoln-Douglas debate for four years at North Canton Hoover High School and has judged and coached for the past five years. Adele enjoys helping students build arguments that bring in concepts they learn in class to each new resolution. When she is not teaching or coaching, Adele enjoys reading, riding her bike or listening to the newest episodes of the podcasts "Stuff You Missed In History Class" or "Hardcore History." 

Rachael Harris debated for four years at North Allegheny Senior High School and was an officer for her team during her senior year. She has experience in Lincoln-Douglas, Public Forum, Congress, and Big Questions, though she spent most of her time in LD. During her senior year, Rachael placed at 8 tournaments, including 2nd place at the Hampton Talbot Tournament and 7th place at the Pennsylvania State Tournament. She is a two-time NCFL qualifier in LD and a NSDA national qualifier in World Schools Debate. Rachael is attending Allegheny College where she is double majoring in political science and computer science with a minor in philosophy. Outside of debate, she enjoys playing violin and listening to vinyl records. Rachael is excited to share her passion for debate with the CDC campers she will meet next summer.