This story was submitted by middle school debate teacher Karina Momary.
The middle school speech and debate team was awarded the Overall School of Excellence Award for the third year in a row at the National Speech & Debate Tournament, held in Kansas in June. The award, based on the overall success of the team, is given to the top three middle school programs in the country.
Notable achievements at the event included two National Championships. The team of Aliesa Bahri and Megan Huynh, both rising freshmen, won the National Championship in Policy Debate, debating the pros and cons of economic engagement with Mexico. Nikhil Dharmaraj, a rising eighth grader, won the National Championship in Original Oratory, presenting a 10-minute memorized speech he wrote about talent versus practice. These two wins mark the sixth and seventh National Championships earned by the middle school debate team since 2010.
Attending the tournament were 730 students from 100 schools spanning 31 states, the Northern Mariana Islands, Canada and Taiwan. Those students constituted more than 1,200 entries across 14 speech and debate events. Harker was one of the larger entries, with 29 students competing in eight events.
Middle school English teacher Marjorie Hazeltine helped the speech students prepare throughout the year. Upper school debate teachers Jenny Alme, Greg Achten and Carol Green joined the team at Nationals and helped coach the students to perform to their level of success.