By Jenny Achten, speech and debate department chair, 6-12
The speech and debate team has had some great results thus far in the season. Students have won awards in both local and national events in all five major events (policy debate, speech, Lincoln-Douglas debate, public forum debate and Congress).
The team of Anusha Kuppahally, grade 12, and Maddie Huynh, grade 11, made it to elimination rounds at both the Valley Invitational in Iowa and the St. Mark’s tournament in Texas. Andy Lee, grade 10, and Deven Shah, grade 9, were also in elimination rounds in Iowa. In policy debate, the yearlong topic is about whether the United States should ease restrictions on immigration. Harker’s advocated for the United States to accept more refugees from Syria.
The speech students are also off to a great start with Alycia Cary, grade 12, winning an award at the Yale Invitational in original oratory. Nikki Solanki, grade 11, took second place in both programmed oral interpretation and dramatic interpretation at the Florida Blue Key tournament. Solanki also won first place in dramatic performance at the Florida Blue Key round robin. Jay Menon, grade 12, also reached elimination rounds in Florida with his oratory. The team is also proud of Brian Pinkston and Ellis Goldman, both grade 10; Andrea Thia, grade 9; and Brandon Lin, grade 11, for making the final rounds of a local league tournament.
A number of the Lincoln-Douglas students also have represented Harker extremely well. Kelly Shen, grade 12; Akshay Manglik, grade 10; and Quentin Clark, grade 11, all qualified for elimination rounds at the Valley tournament in Iowa. Manglik also made it to elimination rounds at the Presentation tournament in San Jose, along with Aditya Tadimeti, grade 10; Sachin Shah, grade 11; and Anshul Reddy, grade 9. Manglik, Tadimeti and Reddy also cleared at the St. Mark’s tournament in Texas. They have debated topics ranging from the rights of reporters to protect confidential sources to privacy concerns for candidates for public office.
In public forum, the duo of Annie Ma and Amanda Cheung, both grade 11, as well as Cindy Wang and Clarissa Wang, both grade 12, and the pairing of Datha Arramreddy, grade 11, and Raymond Banke, grade 12, were in elimination rounds of the Milpitas Invitational. Naveen Mirapuri and Chandan Aggarwal, both grade 11, also won awards at the St. Francis tournament. Their current topic is about whether or not the federal government should impose price controls on the pharmaceutical industry.
Finally, in Congressional debate, Jason Lin, grade 10; Jason Huang, grade 12; and Andrew Sun, grade 10, earned bids to nationals at the Yale Invitational. Sun and Nakul Bajaj, grade 11, both placed second at a league event. Lin, Sun, Riyaa Randhawa, grade 9, and David Feng, grade 11, earned bids to nationals at the Florida Blue Key Invitational.
The coaches are very proud of the success students have enjoyed across the team. This semester, the team will also travel to Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago, and Oakland in addition to attending some local events in San Jose and Santa Clara.
Coach Greg Achten noted, “I am really proud of our students’ success but even more proud of the way they have come together this year and worked as a team. The level of support the students show one another and work to help their teammates both in class and at tournaments tells me a lot about how inclusive and caring our students are.”