SHS speech and de­bate stu­dents to com­pete in na­tional com­pe­ti­tions

Starkville Daily News - - EDUCATION - By CHARLIE BEN­TON educ@starkvilledai­

To con­clude a suc­cess­ful year, six mem­bers of the Starkville High School Speech and De­bate team will com­pete in two na­tional com­pe­ti­tions in the com­ing months.

Af­ter qual­i­fy­ing in re­gional and state tour­na­ments the stu­dents will be headed to na­tional tour­na­ments for the Na­tional Catholic Foren­sics League (NCFL) and the Na­tional Speech and De­bate As­so­ci­a­tion (NSDA). Sopho­mores Lizzie Tom­lin, Cather­ine Li and Vayd Ramku­mar will com­pete in the NSDA com­pe­ti­tion held in Fort Laud­erdale, Florida in June, while fresh­men Aaron Wan and Michel Lu will com­pete in the NCFL com­pe­ti­tion in Washington D.C. in May. Ju­nior Mia Richard­son will com­pete in both.

Robert­son said it was ac­tu­ally her first year on the team.

“I wasn’t re­ally ex­pect­ing to qual­ify for na­tion­als,” Robert­son said. “I just wanted to go and ex­pe­ri­ence it and see how ev­ery­thing was that I could learn from the na­tional qual­i­fiers, but then I guess I just got re­ally lucky af­ter work­ing so hard on my pieces and on our de­bate cases.”

Richard­son said it took a lot of prac­tice and re­search to pre­pare for her events.

“We’re go­ing to have to do a lot more re­search than we usu­ally would,” Richard­son said. “We al­ready do so much, but we’re go­ing to have to look even fur­ther for all of our topics to make sure that we’re ready on ev­ery sin­gle front.”

At NCFL Robert­son will com­pete in oral in­ter­pre­ta­tion, and at NSDA she will com­pete in pub­lic fo­rum de­bate.

Ramku­mar re­counted the ex­pe­ri­ence of at­tend­ing a prior NSDA com­pe­ti­tion as an al­ter­nate last year. With very lit­tle time to pre­pare, it didn’t go so well.

“The first year I went to NSDA, we ba­si­cally got ripped apart,” Ramku­mar said.

How­ever, he feels this time will be a bit dif­fer­ent, since he knows the plan ahead of time, and will be pre­pared by the time com­pe­ti­tion rolls around. At the NSDA com­pe­ti­tion, the SHS de­baters will be up against more than 200 teams from across the coun­try.

“I would be ly­ing if I said I wasn’t scared of what peo­ple at na­tion­als are, be­cause I’ve wit­nessed first­hand just how good these peo­ple are,” Ramku­mar said.

De­bate coach Sonya Har­vey, a SHS English teacher, dis­cussed the team’s suc­cess in her three years coach­ing de­bate at SHS. She said the team had con­tin­ued to grow in qual­ity since she had taken over as coach.

“I’m ob­vi­ously very proud if them,” Har­vey said. “I think that it is a good sign that the team is thriv­ing. It’s re­ally not about the num­ber of peo­ple on the team, but the qual­ity of the peo­ple that are on the team. I’d take a qual­ity team over a big team any day. It says a lot about these kids and the hard work that they put into it.”

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