Adding to the long list of recent speech and debate accomplishments, the Harker middle school debate team claimed the 2010 National Junior Forensic League championship in Public Forum Debate in late June in Des Moines, Iowa. Based on the school’s cumulative accomplishment across all debate events, coach Steve Clemmons took the stage to collect one of only five School of Excellence in Debate awards bestowed at the tournament. Students will be entering Gr. 9 in the fall unless otherwise noted.
In public forum, debaters evaluated whether current trends in political dialogue compromise meaningful democratic discourse. All three Harker teams advanced to competition in the elimination round bracket. While Stephanie Lu and Maneesha Panja fell in the Octafinal round on a 2-1 decision, Harker’s two other teams, Adarsh Battu and partner Arjun Kumar, along with Claudia Tischler and partner Shilpa Yarlagadda, reached the final round and were thus named co-champions. Tischler and Yarlagadda were also undefeated in preliminary competition.
In Lincoln-Douglas, debaters considered whether inclusion of non-felons in DNA databases is unjust. Travis Chen, advanced to semifinals before falling on a 2-1 decision to the eventual champion. Srikar Pyda and Brian Tuan also both made elimination round competition, falling in Octafinals. Rohith Bhethanabotla and Azhar Huda, Gr. 8 (in the fall) competed valiantly in Lincoln-Douglas debate as well, falling just short of reaching the elimination rounds.
Pulling double-duty at the tournament, Kumar complemented his Public Forum championship by reaching finals in Congressional Debate.
Congratulations also go to Mr. Steve Clemmons, Director of Middle School Forensics. Mr. Jonathan Peele, Director of Upper School Congressional Debate and Individual Events, traveled with the team and served as an assistant coach. Ms. Carol Green, Communication Studies Department Chair and Director of Upper School Public Forum, assisted by working with students to organize practices and enlisting the enthusiastic help of many upper school debaters to lend peer-coaching. The success of our middle school debaters at NJFL Nationals truly demonstrates the power of the unified Harker Forensics Team!