SPARTANBURG, SOUTH CAROLINA—Byrnes High School won the South Carolina High School Ethics Bowl competition hosted by Wofford College on Jan. 22 in dramatic fashion.

Byrnes and Christ Church Episcopal School reached the contest’s final round and were tied before a third judge split the vote.

“That has never happened before in a final round,” says Dr. Stephen Michelman, Wofford College professor of philosophy and organizer of the South Carolina High School Ethics Bowl. “It was a tense moment. The match was super close, and the teams were exactly tied in votes and points. We had to consult the rulebook. Byrnes won based on cumulative judge votes.”

Byrnes advanced to the National High School Ethics Bowl (NHSEB) playoffs and defeated Atlantic Community High School (Del Ray Beach, Florida) 2-1 in judge votes. Byrnes will be one of 24 teams competing in the NHSEB Finals at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on April 8-10.

“Ethics Bowl is a chance for students, like me, to have in-depth discussions about ethics and become aware of issues in our society,” says Zoe Mullins, Byrnes’ team captain. “Our team is so amazing, and this competition pushes us to prepare for the future.”

Susanne Cash, an Advanced Placement (AP) English teacher and Byrnes’ ethics bowl coach, also appreciated being part of the win.

“I was tasked to lead the Byrnes High School Ethics Bowl team knowing absolutely nothing about it,” Cash says. “Four years later, I’m immensely proud of our students and am honored to be a part of this competition. It is incredible and inspiring to watch teenagers tackle such tough issues and develop mature discussions about real-world ethical dilemmas.”

Other schools competing in the South Carolina High School Ethics Bowl were Chapman High School, Dorman High School, Spartanburg High School, Spartanburg Day School and West Ashley High School.

The daylong competition was held virtually through a specially designed platform for high school ethics bowls that’s integrated with Zoom video conferencing. The competition had 18 volunteer judges, consisting of faculty from Wofford, Converse University, Furman University, the University of South Carolina Upstate and Spartanburg Methodist College. Tim Madden, a Wofford trustee and a S.C. family court judge, also served as a judge, as well as Dr. Kevin Kelly, a physician from Hyannisport, Massachusetts.

Wofford students Avery Smith and Isabella Hall served as moderators, as well as Delaney Coldren, a Converse University student.

It was the fourth year of the South Carolina Ethics Bowl. State high schools interested in starting an ethics bowl team should contact Michelman at