Over the first weekend in January, the middle school debate team traveled to Spokane, Wash., for the Gonzaga University Conway Classic Tournament. Students in public forum debated “Resolved: On balance, the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission harms the election process.”
Aditya Dhar and Alexander Lam, both grade 8, competed in the varsity division, which was predominantly high school juniors and seniors. They made it to the final four. Emaad Raghib, grade 8, was recognized as being the ninth speaker in the division, and Lam was recognized as being the second speaker in the division. These awards are given to individuals who have exemplified the strongest public speaking and communication skills. Judges in the rounds not only vote for a winner but also rate each competitor on a scale of one to 30.
Students in policy debate debated “Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its transportation infrastructure investment in the United States.”
Rahul Shukla and Rishabh Nijhawan, both grade 8, participated in the JV division and made it to the top 16 teams. Ray Xu, grade 8, received the second speaker award and Steven Cao, grade 8, received the first speaker award. Xu and Cao competed in the final round and defeated their opponents on a 3-0 decision to be named JV policy debate champions.
Just prior to the break, Harker hosted a middle school debate tournament at the middle school campus. The tournament had more than 200 entries in the tournament, with 10 different middle schools from all over California and one team visiting from Canada. Harker had 75 students competing at the tournament and an additional five who volunteered to help with the logistical aspect and act as student ambassadors. Harker students helped clean the classrooms and guide visiting students in between their speech and debate rounds.
Divya Rajasekharan and Andrew Tierno, both grade 8, respectively took first and fifth in dramatic interpretation, in which competitors act out a portion of a novel, short story, play or poem. In extemporaneous speaking, in which students must do on-the-spot research for questions posed to them by the tournament director, Adrian Chu, grade 7, took third and Raymond Xu placed fifth.
Rajasekharan also took first place in humorous interpretation, while Sana Aladin, grade 7, took second and Linus Li, grade 7, placed third. Harker had four top placements in impromptu speaking, with Carissa Chen, grade 8, winning first, Praveen Batra, grade 7, in second place, Tiffany Wong, grade 6, taking fifth and Sneha Bhetanabhotla, grade 8, finishing sixth.
The original oratory competition saw Chen take second, Behtanabhotla win third, Ashli Jain, grade 6, in fourth place and Riya Gupta, grade 6, earning fifth. Nikhil Dharmaraj and Akshay Ravoor, both grade 6, both took second place in the poetry and prose events, respectively, and Aladin took first place in storytelling, while Katherine Zhang, grade 6, took third.
For their exceptional public speaking skills, public forum speaker awards were given to Batra, who took second and Emaad Raghib, who earned fourth. Batra and teammate Michael Kwan, grade 7, took second in the team public forum competition. In policy, Rahul Shukla won the second place speaker award, and took second place with teammate Rishab Nijhawan in the policy competition.
Lincoln-Douglas speaker awards were given to grade 8 student Manan Shah for first place, Liza Turchinsky, grade 7, for second place and Steven Cao in fourth place. In the Lincoln-Douglas debate competition, Shah and Kai Ang, grade 8, were named co-champions.
Harker’s best category at the tournament was the congressional debate, where Harker students, all grade 8, took the six top spots, with Aditya Dhar winning first, Alexander Lam earning second, Michael Tseitlin taking third, Venkat Sankar finishing fourth, Sandip Nirmel taking fifth and Rishab Gargeya in sixth place.