Debate members move on to compete at state tournament

State competition set to take place in April

Emily Francis, Editor-in-Chief

After meeting on Zoom to practice two to three times a week since the beginning of the year, the Oak Park High School Speech and Debate team competed in the state qualifier tournament. Five OPHS Debate students have qualified to attend the state competition in April, the most students that have ever qualified from OPHS.

Junior Harshitha Dasari, junior Prisha Suresh and sophomore Tiarra Joseph qualified to compete in state in the Lincoln-Douglas category and sophomore Manas Garg and sophomore Isha Varrier qualified to compete in Public Forum at state. 

In Public Forum, teams of two compete by arguing one side of an issue. The teams prepare a case for both sides of the argument on a specific issue using evidence and statistics. 

“The competition at State Quals is naturally very difficult. Every team had a strong case and had arguments prepared against ours,” Garg wrote to the Talon. “All members on the teams were great speakers and spoke coherently during their rounds.”

As preparation, the team creates different breakout rooms during their meetings to work on different types of debate and speech and work with other students on cases and strategies. 

“[The students] worked so hard this year. Students would show up every week and work with their teammates and also put in many other hours researching and preparing cases,” Speech and Debate co-adviser Suzie Nicks wrote to the Talon. “We really didn’t know what to expect going into this year, but the students have been amazing and have adapted beautifully to working and competing online.”

Nicks feels excited to have five students who qualified for the state and feels very proud of the students

“Our students are an amazing bunch of kids. It is so hard to get back on Zoom after you have been on it all day for school. They are incredibly kind, smart, respectful and curious and I have learned so much from them this year. I tell them regularly that they give me great hope for this world,” Nicks wrote. “This is a group of kids with diverse backgrounds and experiences and they have fantastic discussions about really hard topics.”