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14 students qualify for National Speech and Debate Tournament

The+PHS+Debate+and+Forensics+team+will+be+taking+14+students+to+the+National+Speech+and+Debate+Tournament%2C+the+most+in+school+history.+
The PHS Debate and Forensics team will be taking 14 students to the National Speech and Debate Tournament, the most in school history.

The PHS Debate and Forensics team will be taking 14 students to the National Speech and Debate Tournament, the most in school history.

Photo by: Julie Laflen, contributed

Photo by: Julie Laflen, contributed

The PHS Debate and Forensics team will be taking 14 students to the National Speech and Debate Tournament, the most in school history.

Story by Journey Jaramillo, Managing Editor

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After competing in a range of events, the Forensics and Debate team will take 14 students to Fort Lauderdale for the National Speech and Debate Tournament.

The tournament will take place June 17-22. The team has competed in several national qualifier tournaments this year, the earliest taking place on Dec. 8-9. At that tournament, one team, senior Cooper Johnson and junior Leyton Marler qualified in Policy Debate.

“I feel as if national qualifiers could have gone a little smoother, but Cooper and I tried our hardest and we reached our goal. Just like last year, going to nationals, up against the best from across the nation is something that is going to improve my debating significantly,” Marler said. “This is an experience that I wouldn’t get if it weren’t for [my teammates], though. I definitely owe a shout out to them. They all helped Cooper and I get to this point. I have a lot of respect for all of them.”

The next national qualifier tournament took place on March 13 where two students, juniors Haley Garzone and Austin Edwards, qualified in Congressional House.

This is an experience that I wouldn’t get if it weren’t for [my teammates]…”

— Leyton Marler

“I was actually really shocked when I found out that I qualified and finding out I got my ticket to Florida was so exciting,” Garzone said. “I am excited about going because the competition at nationals is very different than it is here in the SEK and almost all of my best friends are going.”

Juniors Collin Duncan and Nathan Newby qualified in Lincoln-Douglas Debate and freshman Rose Scott and junior Haylee Valley qualified in Public Forum Debate at the national qualifier event that took place April 6-7.

The last event took place April 20, 21, where senior Gina Mathew, juniors Emeral McCauley and Hannah Casper and sophomores Scout Peery and Mikayla Kitchen qualified. The events in which they qualified ranged from United States Extemporaneous Speaking, Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking, Dramatic Interpretation, Congressional House and Humorous Interpretation.

“This is my first year doing dramatic interp. and I fell in love with the event,” Casper said. “I think that my piece tells a story that is very important for people to hear.”

Several students who qualified for nationals this year have also qualified in the past, including Mathews, Marler, Casper, Valley, Garzone, Edwards, McCauley and Johnson.

“The first time qualifying for Nationals was really exciting and almost all fun. The second time around I felt a huge amount of pressure to perform. Having made the second qualification attempt though, I feel relieved and very grateful for the team I had around me in debate,” Johnson said. “I’m especially thankful for everyone that went to national qualifiers and helped get me there a second time.”

To participate in Nationals, a student would have to be a member of the NSDA. Each student earns points by competing at tournaments, for wins and losses. They are able to become a member once they reach 25 points.

As the students compete and get their points, collectively their points add up and that is where national ranks form, according to Debate and Forensics coach Julie Laflen.

“We are ranked 72 out of more than 3,000 teams in the United States,” Laflen said. “We earn this ranking based on the success we have at tournaments, so it goes to show that we are working hard and kicking tail.”

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14 students qualify for National Speech and Debate Tournament