The middle school forensics program traveled to Birmingham, Ala., in June to compete at the National Junior Forensics League National Tournament. The team as a collective brought home the National School of Excellence Award that recognizes the top three speech and debate programs in the country. The team also earned the National Debate School of Excellence Award given to the top six debate programs in the country.
As individuals, the students earned many awards including two national championships. The team of Aditya Dhar and Alexander Lam, who both start grade 9 next year, debated the benefit of drone strikes in Public Forum debate and after nine tough rounds were declared the national champions.
In Congressional debate, the Harker team had the top four students in the event which is a monumental achievement. Winning his second national championship, Lam took first place. Dhar took second, rising freshmen Emaad Raghib was third and Misha Tseitlin was fourth. Rishab Gargeya, who also recently finished grade 8, was also a finalist. Last year at Nationals Dhar won first place and Lam won second place.
In Policy Debate, recent middle school graduates Raymond Xu and Rahul Shukla advanced to the final four in their discussion about transportation infrastructure. Rising eighth grader Megan Huynh and Anika Jain, a freshman next year, advanced to the top 16.
In Lincoln Douglas debate, the students discussed the desirability of an oppressive government over no government. Rising grade 8 students Serena Lu and Sagar Rao advanced to the top sixteen. Lu and Liza Turchinsky, also in grade 8 next year, were recognized as being exceptional speakers and winning the seventh place and fifth place awards in that category. Turchinsky also received second place in the continuation rounds.
Harker also had students who competed in Original Oratory, a 10-minute speech students write themselves that call the audience to action. Jain, Nikhil Dharmaraj, rising grade 8, and Carissa Chen, starting grade 9 in the fall, all advanced to the elimination rounds. Chen advanced to finals and received the fifth place award; she was also recognized for her impromptu speaking skills and advanced to the top 12 in this event.
The students had an amazing performance and the coaches are all very proud of their success. “Thank you for all of your support of middle school forensics throughout the year,” said middle school forensics teacher Karina Momary. “I know our schedule is not the easiest to accommodate but your flexibility and support is what allows the students to participate and excel. A special thank you to Jonathan Brusco. Jonathan gave topic lectures to the Public Forum and Lincoln Douglas debaters before Nationals. His insights helped the boys win the finals!”