OPHS debate excels in annual tournaments

Highlights from the first semester of debate


Photo by: OPHS Speech and Debate Team

Oak Park High School’s speech and debate teams dominated tournaments in the first few months of school. Both teams have had tremendous success in numerous categories at the tournaments they have participated in.

In the Jack Howe Invitational Tournament, many speech and debate team members won awards. Freshman Diya Varrier finished as a semifinalist in novice debate. Varrier also placed fifth as a novice speaker. In parliamentary debate, juniors Neel Vats and Gautam Valiveti finished as octo-finalists. For parliamentary and speaker awards, sophomore Bing Heine-Van Fossen placed fourth, sophomores Lincoln Reyes placed fifth and Muse Casanova placed sixth.

There are many student coaches that work to prepare debate team members for their upcoming tournaments. With the debate team’s successful results at past tournaments, coaches’ efforts to prepare team members were worthwhile.

“These coaches worked overtime to get our students ready for this early tournament,” speech and debate team advisor Irene Lyle wrote in a StudentSquare post.

More recently, the novice debate team participated in the TCFL Novice Debate Tournament. Debate team members freshmen Aayan Khare, Joseph Mouzaya and Arthav Atal were recognized as superior debaters in the Lincoln Douglas Debate 2-1. In this tournament, only seven students finished undefeated. Six of these seven students were members of the OPHS speech and debate team. Debate team members sophomore Sanusur Borjin, freshman Justine Picard, freshman Harrison Shaffer, Avery Nguyen, Meera Shreedhar and sophomore Shaurya Madiraju finished as undefeated debaters in the Lincoln Douglas debate 2-0. Shaurya Madiraju was also awarded the top speaker for the Lincoln Douglas debate.

“We did amazing in the TCFL tournament,” freshman debate team member Arthav Atal said. “All the work we put in before the tournament paid off in the end.” 

In order to prepare for these tournaments, speech and debate team members spent weeks practicing. As practices take place twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays, time spent dedicated to preparations is valuable.

“The team splits off into separate rooms according to their event, and the coaches for each event end up leading that class for the remainder of the practice,” sophomore debate team member Joy Chu said.

The speech and debate team members have worked hard to succeed in these tournaments. Throughout the year, the team hopes to continue to have regular practices and create an enjoyable and productive environment.

“The team spirit in debate is unreal,” Atal said. “We all cheer each other on, have lots of fun, and we know we can rely on each other. ”