Harker had incredible results at the final speech and debate tournament of the season. The National Speech & Debate Association tournament took place online June 13-19. It is one of three major national championships. Thousands of students try to qualify to attend the tournament in each event, a few hundred are selected to compete, and only the top 16 competitors win awards. Harker had four students make it to their respective final rounds!
Rising senior William Chien was in the final round of domestic extemporaneous speaking and placed third. Chien said that his favorite thing about the experience was “meeting people from all across the country and getting to know their different backgrounds, ideas and perspectives.” Rising junior Michelle Jin was in the finals of international extemporaneous speaking and came in fifth. Jin commented that speech has helped her confidence, noting, “In [extemporaneous speaking], where you only have 30 minutes to organize your speech, you just have to trust yourself when you begin speaking.”
In congressional debate, recent graduate Andrew Sun placed third and was awarded the Leadership Bowl for Most Outstanding Legislator by his peers. Sun summed up his many years on the team, saying, “Speech and debate has been a defining part of my middle school and high school experience at Harker; I wouldn’t have it any other way!” Rising junior Arissa Huda also qualified to compete in congress.
In the middle school division, rising eighth grader Pavitra Kasthuri was a finalist in prepared prompt speaking.
Several Harker students were also named Academic All-American by the NSDA, placing them in the top 1 percent of student members in terms of speech and debate records and grade point averages. Recent graduates Andy Lee, Jason Lin, Akshay Manglik, Nathan Ohana and Andrew Sun, as well as rising seniors William Chien, Melody Luo, Deven Shah and Rohan Thakur were honored.
Harker coaches also received awards. Scott Odekirk was named an Educator of the Year! Only one to three coaches receive that award per year, out of thousands of coaches. Department Chair Jenny Achten was awarded a fourth Diamond, meaning that she has coached a large and successful team for 20 years.