This article originally appeared in the winter 2014 Harker Quarterly.
September Tournaments Yield TOC Bids
Harker debaters were busy in late September, earning impressive results at two events!
The debate team had a great weekend at the Greenhill Round Robin and Invitational in Dallas. Pranav Reddy, grade 12, was the first-place speaker in Lincoln- Douglas debate in both the round robin and the invitational. The round robin is for the top 16 Lincoln-Douglas debaters in the country, so a first place finish is quite an accomplishment. Reddy also made it to the quarterfinals of the invitational. Ayush Midha, grade 12 was the second place policy speaker at the invitational (out of 232 competitors). Midha and Panny Shan, grade 11, made it to the octofinals of the invitational. All three students earned one of the two required qualifying bids for the Tournament of Champions.
Nine Harker debaters traveled to New Haven, Conn., to compete at the Yale Debate Invitational. Alumni coaches Arjun Kumar ’14 and Aneesh Chona ’13 coached public forum debate and served as judges.
Sophomore Michael Tseitlin earned a bid to the prestigious Tournament of Champions by making it to the semi- final chamber in congressional debate.
Nichols Invitational Attracts Nearly 400 Competitors
Harker hosted the 15th annual Howard and Diana Nichols Invitational Debate Tournament on the last weekend of September. A total of 380 students from 26 California schools participated in the tournament, which was run primarily by Harker debate students. In addition to various debate competitions, the event included several workshops taught by Harker debate captains.
“These workshops were dreamed up by Harker captains years ago and have become something we are known for as our successful older students teach Harker and outside students who are new to debate,” said Harker debate teacher Carol Green.
The weekend also included a special novice public forum tournament for debaters in grades 6-8, in which 35 middle school students participated.
Grade 11 Debater Named to National Student Leadership Committee, Upper School Program Honored
On Oct. 13, Eesha Chona, grade 11, was selected to be a part of the National Speech & Debate Association’s Student Leadership Committee, which represents the needs of debate students and encourages student leaders to advocate for other association members. As a member of the committee, Chona will serve as a role model to other debate students, participate in monthly meetings and engage with social media outlets.
Additionally, the upper school’s speech and debate program was recognized for its extraordinary success by being named to the National Speech & Debate Association’s Pentagon Society, thereby making it one of the top 0.1 percent of high school speech and debate programs in the country, according to their press release. Harker earned this honor by receiving more than 500 honorary degrees during the 2013-14 school year. Harker ranked 15th overall out of 3,000 member schools nationwide.
Middle School Holds Intramural Tournament
On Oct. 30, 85 middle school students and their parents participated in the October Intramural Speech and Debate Tournament. Each student competed in three competitive rounds against other Harker students to practice and get a feel for what a competitive round is like. Parents and high school students volunteered as judges. The event was run in a timely fashion, with more than 50 total speech and debate rounds taking place on a Thursday evening.
Success Continues Through October
Harker debate students continued their successful year at a tournament held at the University of the Pacific in Stockton at the end of October. Andrew Tierno, grade 10, took second place in open dramatic interpretation, while Lisa Liu, grade 11, earned third place in open humorous interpretation.
Meanwhile, the team of David Jin, grade 11, and Alex Lam, grade 10, and the team of freshmen Derek Kuo and Justin Xie, both finished in the top eight of open public forum debate.
Earlier in the month, at the St. Mark’s School in Dallas, policy debaters Ayush Midha and Panny Shan reached the semifinal round, finishing third out of 76 teams. Midha was named 14th speaker in the tournament and, on the invitation of a group of debate coaches, gave a special speech at St. Mark’s. These results qualified Midha and Shan for the Tournament of Champions.
At a Lincoln-Douglas debate event held at Presentation High School, Pranav Reddy was named the first-place speaker in the round robin and invitational events, in addition to reaching the semifinal round of the invitational and qualifying for the Tournament of Champions. Karen Qi, grade 11, reached the quarterfinals of the invitational, placing her one step closer to qualifying for the Tournament of Champions.
Students Earn Accolades and TOC Spots in Public Forum
More than 30 Harker students attended the Presentation High School Public Forum Invitational held the weekend of Nov. 8. Eighteen upper school students competed in the varsity division while four upper school and eight middle school students competed in the novice division; three seniors came to the tournament to coach novices.
Two of Harker’s varsity teams made it into the Elite Eight, with one team debating its way to the final two, losing the final round on a 2-1 decision. Seniors Nikhil Kishore and Vamsi Gadiraju rocked their first tournament of the season as final-round participants and earned their first leg to the Tournament of Champions.
Kishore and Gadiraju are the fifth Harker public forum team to earn half of their qualifying legs only two months into the season.
The top eight teams in elimination rounds included the duo known as “The Brothers Lin” – David Lin, grade 12, and his younger brother Jimmy Lin, grade 9.
Sorjo Banerjee, grade 11, was named as the top overall individual speaker at the tournament with five other Harker students being recognized in the top 15 overall.
Success in Minneapolis
Six middle school and 10 upper school students traveled to Apple Valley, Minn., in early November to compete at the MinneApple Debate Tournament. This is the first year Harker middle school students have competed at this high school varsity national invitational and everyone had a wonderful time!
Every team from Harker won at least one of their preliminary rounds, an especially notable accomplishment for the middle schoolers as they were the only grade 7 debaters in the pool of mostly high school juniors and seniors.
Eesha Chona and Joyce Huang, grade 10, were 33rd seed and missed elimination rounds by the speaker point tie-breaker. Juniors Suraj Jagadeesh and Nikhil Bopardikar went undefeated in preliminaries and lost a close match in the first elimination round. Bopardikar was also named seventh overall individual speaker out of more than 200 speakers in the varsity division!
Abhinav Ketineni and Jasmine Liu, both grade 11, also went undefeated in prelims. They lost in the Sweet 16 as did the team of Alex Lam and David Jin. Both teams earned their first of two qualifying legs to the Tournament of Champions. Ketineni was also the ninth overall individual speaker.
Sorjo Banerjee and sophomore Emaad Raghib represented Harker all the way to the Elite Eight, losing in the quarterfinal round. They also picked up their first leg to the Tournament of Champions.