Middle school debaters saw success in tournaments held in late October and mid-November. At the University of the Pacific tournament, held in Stockton , Calif., over the weekend of Oct. 29, Lisa Liu, grade 8, competed at the varsity level in the Impromptu category, in which students choose a topic and are given two minutes to prepare a speech, which they then spend five minutes presenting. Competing against high school students, Liu reached the semifinals and was later named one of the tournament’s top 20 speakers.
In her first tournament, Divya Rajasekharan, grade 7, made the final round of Novice Humorous Interpretation, an event that requires students to memorize a published work and then reinterpret it in an entertaining and comedic manner. Rajasekharan’s piece, “Beauty is a Beast,” relayed the tale of a conceited princess who learns that kindness is more important than beauty.
Two weeks later, at the Damien Debates at Damien High School in La Verne, Calif., students Panny Shan and Steven Cao, both grade 8, competed against high school students, winning four of five rounds in the preliminaries. They wound up losing a very close contest in the quarterfinals against Diamond Ranch High School’s top team. In the varsity division, Lisa Liu and Sophia Luo, grade 8, won against two teams from Polytechnic High School and Liu again received accolades for her speaking ability, selected as the ninth best speaker out of 40 students in her division.