Middle school students brought home a slew of first and seconds from the 2012 Glendale Middle School Warm-up Speech and Debate Competition tournament hosted by Glendale Community College. This is the first year the event has been held and there were more than 100 entries. Harker students usually participate in high school-level tournaments and were very excited to attend one of the few middle school tournaments of the year, held at Glendale College.
The Harker contingent, 36-strong, brought home many awards and was in the final round of every style of debate. Four teams advanced to the elimination rounds of public forum debate. Students in that debate had been preparing for six weeks prior to the tournament doing research on childhood vaccines and discussing whether state-mandated administration of childhood vaccinations is justified.
Neeraj Agarwal and Michael Kwan, both grade 6, were double-octofinalists. Joyce Huang, grade 7, and Shivali Minocha, grade 8, made it to the sweet-16 level in the public forum debate. Sophia Luo and Panny Shan, both grade 8, were both congressional debate finalists, as well as making it to the semifinals in public forum debate. Alexander Lam and Aditya Dhar, both grade 7, made it to the finals, where they received second place in that category.
The middle school team also saw six students advance to the elimination rounds of the Lincoln-Douglas debate. Students had been preparing for this topic for the past two months. Students in this category examined whether targeted killing is a morally permissible foreign policy tool. Ray Xu and Manan Shah, both grade 7, were in the sweet-16 level of this debate. Abhinav Keteni, grade 8, and Steven Cao, grade 7, were quarterfinalists in Lincoln-Douglas. Karen Qi, grade 8, advanced to the semifinals. Sagar Rao, grade 6, made it to the final round and received second place.
Dhar received first place in the congressional debate, where he has had continued success throughout the competitive season. Moreover, Dhar is one of the few middle school students to ever earn a bid to the high school national Tournament of Champions.
Harker walked away with five of the top six awards given at the tournament. Emaad Raghib, grade 7, received second place. Misha Tseitlin, grade 7, received fourth place. Cao received fifth place. Prithvi Gudapati, grade 8, received sixth place in the congressional debate, which was his first debate tournament.
Harker continued its success in the speech events. Divya Rajasekharan, grade 7, won first place for her piece on the effects of bullying. She has presented this piece at two other tournaments and has also won first place at both of them. She received fifth place for her piece titled “Beauty is a Beast.”
Sana Aladin, grade 7, debuted a humorous piece about the perils of being a flight attendant and won third place. She was also given the opportunity by the flight attendants during the trip to present her piece, “Safety Shuffle,” over the intercom on the plane.
Carissa Chen, grade 7, won first place for the speech she wrote about the benefits of gossip. She has been practicing this speech for the entire year. She also won fifth place in dramatic interpretation for her Amy Tan piece about playing the piano.
Lisa Liu, grade 8, has brought home many accolades from each tournament she attends. This tournament was no different. She scored first place in the impromptu category, second place in humorous interpretation and third place in dramatic interpretation.
Sixth graders Serena Lu and Liza Turchinsky both tried new events at this tournament and won fifth and sixth place, respectively. They participated in extemporaneous speaking where they answered current events questions and analyzed different media sources for the judge.
Rishab Gargeya, grade 7, placed fifth in impromptu speaking. In the final round he was given a selection of three colors. He had two minutes to prepare his speech and then was asked to speak on those colors for five minutes.
Raghib received fourth place in impromptu speaking, while Arjun Subramaniam, grade 7, received sixth place in storytelling. For that piece, Raghib retold children’s stories for the judges. Finally, Xu, grade received third place in extemporaneous speaking.
In other news, Shan and Cao were further selected to attend the Junior Varsity Nationals. Held at Woodward Academy in Atlanta, Ga., the tournament was for teams in their second year of policy debate.
During that event, Shan and Cao – who were among the few middle school students in attendance – discussed the benefits of U.S. space exploration and asteroid detection. They won three out of six rounds.
“This was far above their experience level and they were mainly competing against high school sophomores,” said Karina Momary, director of middle school forensics, noting how well the middle school students placed in both the California and Georgia tournaments.