By Lindsey Kundel, Director of Communications & Marketing
Taipei American School's speech and debate teams have earned a significant recognition from the National Speech & Debate Association for the 2020-2021 school year: membership in the Association's prestigious 200 Club.
This club award is given to schools whose students demonstrate outstanding commitment to communication, research, listening, writing, and organization. Schools become eligible by individual students earning Honor Society points and degrees through participation in speech and debate competitions, leadership, and service activities.
According to Chase Williams, TAS Grade 6-12 Director of Speech and Debate, the strength of a school's speech program is measured by how many degrees it has. "Essentially, the more students you have, and the more committed those students are, the more points and degrees that they individually earn and that the school collectively earns," said Williams.
This year, TAS has achieved 273 strength points and is on track to achieve recognition as a 300 Club school later this year.
"It is still early in the season," said Williams. "This school year we're ranked in the top 100 schools for the 2021-2022 school year." Although Williams isn't sure that will hold - since bigger American schools have more points, tournaments, and students that participate throughout the year - he's proud to report that TAS is currently ranked 74th in the world for its speech and debate program.
"As our team grows in size and students compete for multiple years, they'll continue to earn degrees and our school's strength will continue to grow as well," said Williams. "I'm confident we'll be in the 300 club next year."
Dr. Adam Nelson, Interim Deputy Head of School, wishes all students and coaches a hearty congratulations for this achievement. As a former speech and debate coach and participant, he said, "It's a very big deal, especially for a school overseas."
This school year, Taipei American School speech and debaters have attended four different tournaments including both digital and in-person events. They have competed in the season opener hosted by The University of Kentucky, the Taiwan NSDA Members Invitational (in-person!), the NYC Invitational hosted by the Bronx High School of Science, and the University of Michigan's High School Debate Tournament.
Mr. Williams says that the TAS program plans to attend at least eight additional tournaments this year but this number could grow depending on the pandemic and other factors. The current plan is to attend the Glenbrooks Invitational, the John Edie Holiday Tournament, the Southern Bell Tournament, the Arizona State University Tournament, the Barkley Forum, the Stanford University Tournament, and the Tournament of Champions. The season will close by attending the NSDA National Tournament.
TAS's speech and debate program is led by Chase Williams and supported by three additional coaches in both the Upper and Middle schools: Beth Clarke, Drew Williams, and Ian Hopkins. The school also employs a number of assistant coaches from the United States who work with our students virtually to provide feedback. This year around 100 TAS students are participating in speech and debate events across both divisions.