Congratulations to Public Forum debaters Kelsey Hilbrich, Gr. 11 and Kaavya Gowda, Gr. 12, for their win at the National Tournament of Champions (TOC) held in May at the University of Kentucky. The TOC is considered to be one of the most prestigious tournaments in the nation. Students compete on the national circuit all year against some of the best teams in the country to earn qualifying legs to the TOC. For most students, just qualifying to the TOC is a high school dream. Once at the TOC, debaters are pitted against the best, since every team in the tournament had to make it to late eliminations at other elite national tournaments. This means that every preliminary round (there are seven) is essentially a semifinal or final round at a regular season tournament.
When the dust clears after seven preliminary rounds, the top 16 teams at the tournament are left to battle in the elimination rounds. Much like a sports tournament, the winning team in each debate advances except there is no best of three or five, it is a single elimination. Hilbrich and Gowda defeated a number of top-tier teams, round after round for three days straight. In their semifinal round, they defeated the National Debate Coaches Association champions, and in finals they went head to head with a team who had been in a number of national final rounds including the largest national high school invitation in the fall (the Glenbrooks).
The entire year for debate culminates in the three national championship title competitions, so this win was a perfect end to the school year. Carol Green, debate teacher and coach, was thrilled with the girls’ per formance and stressed the difficulty of this achievement. Green explained, “It is rare that a national championship in debate is brought to a high school considering the thousands of schools that compete for the oppor tunity each year. As a coach I can honestly say this may be one of the highlights of my career!”
Hilbrich and Gowda were presented with their trophies in late May, and they presented the school with a framed award to be displayed perpetually on campus. The girls were also featured on the front page of the National Forensics League Web site. Congratulations to both the coach and our national champions!
In other forensics news, the Harker policy team comprising juniors Arjun Mody and Adam Perelman had a good showing at the National Catholic Forensic League Grand National Tournament in Albany, N.Y. The boys went 3-2 in prelims and made it to double-octofinals (top 32) in Policy Debate. This is the first time a Harker policy team has made it to elimination rounds at Grand Nationals. Nice work!
Meanwhile, David Kastelman, Gr. 12, made it to the four th level of competition in the Lions Club Speakers Contest, an annual speech competition for high school students. The topic for this year’s contest was “Water: Will California Be Left High and Dry?” Kastelman was defeated at the four th level after defeating Jyoti Narayanswami, Gr. 11, at the third level, and Kevin Kim, Gr. 12, at the second level. Kim had previously defeated Akshay Aggarwal, Gr. 10, at the first level. “This is the first time multiple Harker students have competed against each other at the various levels and we look forward to continuing this success in future years,” said Green.