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Sasha Bauhs, Undeterred: A Look At Her Widely Praised Ethics Bowl Achievement


Sasha Bauhs, Undeterred: A Look At Her Widely Praised Ethics Bowl Achievement
Sara Courtney

It was early April when Upper School English teacher Dr. Barrett Ward noticed a curious email in his inbox from the University of North Carolina. “Congratulations, Sasha!” it read. “You’re the winner!” Dr. Ward knew immediately what it meant. As the Adviser to the Ethics Bowl Team, he recalled when, during the winter, Sasha Bauhs ’25, the co-captain of the Ethics Bowl Team, mentioned she was planning to submit an original ethical case study paper to a competition held by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Parr Center for Ethics. Sasha never showed the paper to Dr. Ward or her teachers. Instead, she quietly wrote and submitted it on her own. Dr. Ward wondered if she had changed her mind, or perhaps was not selected—it was extremely competitive, after all—until that congratulatory email arrived. Pingry had its own ethics competition winner in Sasha, a student who had first tried out for the Ethics Bowl during her sixth-grade year at a peer school, only to be rejected. Did that fuel her dedication at all? “It sparked my interest more,” said Sasha, politely.

Dr. Ward put it more bluntly: “She took that personally.”


To hear Dr. Ward say it, the Ethics Bowl is for everyone, though it often attracts a certain type of academic. “You get a specific type of student who says, ‘I wanna spend my free time studying… ethics.’” Whether they grow up to become lawyers or doctors or deep-thinking philosophers, the joy of contemplating ethical dilemmas, the thrill of pushing through heated discussions to reach a thoughtful conclusion, is a particular kind of excitement for a particular kind of student. “They tend to be more cerebral,” he observes. Dr. Ward, who taught English Literature at the United States Air Force Academy and was an instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for three years, has a straightforward way of communicating. “I don’t mince words,” he admits. “I have this mantra that I don’t treat them any different than I would treat a university student. Ninth grader? Welcome to the big leagues.”

So it was a freshman Sasha Bauhs who approached Dr. Ward last year and expressed her interest in joining the Ethics Bowl Team. At the time, Dr. Ward had an “epic team of seniors” and so, while Sasha had a conflict the day of the competition, she still didn’t let that deter her, instead participating on the team as an alternate. “She still came and supported all the competitions,” says Dr. Ward, impressed. “I love that kind of ethic. [So] I made her my captain as a sophomore this year.”

The Ethics Bowl Team meets once a week, though that increases to nearly daily as they near competition time in February. “The way we run our meetings is more of a conversation,” says Sasha. “We’ll dedicate each meeting to a case. We read it together, go through initial thoughts, and start thinking about how to approach it—the counterarguments for everything we propose and how we deal with that.”

For her ethics competition submission, Sasha was inspired by an ethics-centered reading of Frankenstein in her 10th Grade English Class taught by Alisha Davlin. Her paper, titled “Frankenstein Child”, uses Frankenstein to explore an ethical analysis of parents who grow and choose embryos for the benefit of a living, ill sibling. “We have these Harkness discussions in class where it’s the entire class contributing to reflect on the book,” she says. “And in one class, we went super deep on the ethics behind [Frankenstein] and it was very heated. And I disagreed with a lot of the things being said, so from there on, I started jotting down what my thoughts were and what I could use as different standpoints in my essay.”

Ms. Davlin calls Sasha “one of my strongest writers”, yet it is her level of engagement and participation in the Harkness-style discussions in class that have been so invaluable. Calling her “a pillar of class discussion”, Ms. Davlin observes and grades students based on the different levels of engagement, and emphasizes that simply making a comment is not enough. “Making a really insightful comment, asking a great open-ended question, a dissenting opinion—these are the highest-ranking participation,” she says. Of Sasha, Ms. Davlin found her consistent participation and thought-provoking questions to be impressive. “She’s very good at dissenting opinion.”

For Sasha, her ability to keep pursuing her passion has led to a widely praised achievement. And, as part of winning the competition, her case may be used in future Ethics Bowl competitions. The subject of studying ethical dilemmas with real-world implications is something she can’t get enough of—and won’t be deterred from. Dr. Ward is already looking forward to next year’s Ethics Bowl, and expects Sasha will continue to grow and elevate the team. After all, he praises, “she studies ethics in her off time.”



Contact: Sara Courtney, Communications Writer




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