This article was originally published in the Fall 2011 Harker Quarterly.
Though it may have been a time of relaxation for many, summer was a busy time for Harker’s forensics department, with students competing in tournaments out of state and the department running its own Forensics Institute. In June, 23 middle school debaters attended the National Junior Forensics League Tournament in Dallas, where Pranav Reddy, now in grade 9, won the national championship in Lincoln-Douglas debate and finished fifth in student congress. Aditya Dhar, grade 7, took third place in student congress.
In addition to these achievements, Harker won the National Debate School of Excellence award, given to the country’s top five debate schools, for the second straight year.
Also in Dallas, James Seifert ’11reached the finals of the dramatic interpretation competition at the National Forensic League’s National Championship Tournament, capping off a string of tournament successes that began in
September 2010. Seifert ended up placing fourth in a highly competitive event that included 236 participants.
Back in San Jose, Harker hosted its own two-week Forensics Institute in August at the upper school campus, which was open to upper and middle school students, as well as students from outside Harker. The institute, directed by upper school debate teachers Greg Achten and Jonathan Peele and middle school debate teacher Karina Momary, offered instruction on policy debate, Lincoln-Douglas debate, public forum, congressional debate and individual events.
Instructors hired for the event were Alex Smith, who debated at University of California, Berkeley and Harvard Law, Harker graduate Roshni Bhatnagar ‘11 and Shelly Kingaby, a coach from North Carolina who assists upper school debaters during the school year and helped Seifert reach the dramatic interpretation finals in Dallas.
During the institute, students participated in practice debates and received personalized attention from their teachers, made possible by the one-to-seven teacher-student ratio.