The first weekend of December, the middle school forensics program hosted its Second Annual Speech and Debate Tournament at the upper school campus, where 13 schools brought more than 300 competitors. The three teams recognized as being the top in the country, including Harker, were present.
Many Harker students, parents and coaches were in attendance to help the students and run the tournament. Several students did double duty as competitors and hosts. Despite the extra duties, the entire team had a great showing, with four first-place finishes and many students in the top five.
In Original Oratory, Ashley Duraiswamy, grade 6, took fourth place. Cynthia Chen, also grade 6, finished sixth and Katherine Zhang, grade 7, took seventh. In Dramatic Interpretation, grade 6 students Avi Gulati earned first place, Nikki Solanki took third and Sachin Shah finished in sixth.
Grade 7 students Akshay Ravoor and Anjay Saklecha netted second place for their Duo Interpretation speech on surviving a zombie apocalypse. In Storytelling, Amla Rashingkar and Maya Shukla, both grade 6, took first and third place, respectively. Sanjay Rajasekharan, grade 6, also finished in second place in Humorous Interpretation, in which Rashingkar took fifth place and Saklecha took seventh.
Harker saw continued success in the debate events, with Praveen Batra, grade 8, winning first place in Congressional Debate. Eighth grader Alan Hughes was undefeated in the preliminary rounds, winning all five of his debates. He was also recognized as the Top Speaker of the tournament. He advanced to the top 16 in the elimination rounds of the tournament. Matthew Lee, grade 8, won four of his five debates in the preliminary rounds and advanced to the elimination rounds and placed in the top 8 of the tournament. Sagar Rao, grade 8, won four of his five debates in the preliminary rounds and advanced to the top 16 in the elimination rounds of the tournament.
The team of Anusha Kuppahally, grade 7, and Megan Huynh, grade 8, won four of their five preliminary rounds in Policy Debate. Huynh was named the second-best speaker of the tournament. Aliesa Bahri and Millie Lin, both grade 8, won three of their preliminary debates. Both teams advanced to the elimination rounds and closed out the tournament winning first and second place in the division.
In Public Forum, eighth graders Derek Kuo and Kevin Xu were undefeated in the preliminary rounds, winning all five of their debates. They advanced to the elimination rounds and finished in the top eight of the tournament. The teams of Solanki and Amanda Cheung, both grade 6, and seventh graders Cindy Wang and Clarissa Wang each won four of their five preliminary debates and advanced to the top 16 in the elimination rounds.