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A Fantastic Start to SY23-24 for TAS Speech & Debate

A Fantastic Start to SY23-24 for TAS Speech & Debate

The TAS Speech & Debate program has had a fantastic year so far. Coming off a banner summer at the NSDA National Tournament in June, the bar was set high for our speech and debate Tigers, and they have delivered! Over the first five and a half months of school, over 75 students have competed at eleven tournaments and the program has traveled over 60,000 miles.

Speech and Debate is often described as academic track and field, since our students may specialize in a specific event, like public forum debate or extemporaneous speaking or policy debate, but they are still competing as one TAS team. Our Tigers have had success across multiple events this fall, most notably in public forum debate and policy debate.

Brendon C. ‘24 and Stella W. ‘24 started the season off strong by winning the University of Kentucky Season Opener in Public Forum Debate. Brendon C. ‘24 and Erik H. ‘24 also saw success at the Bronx High School of Science NYC Invitational, finishing in the Semifinal round. Brendon and Stella saw success again earlier this month when they finished as champions of the Cavalier Invitational in Public Forum Debate, hosted by Durham Academy in Durham, NC. Brendon and Stella currently rank as a Top-5 team in the United States and are already fully qualified for the Tournament of Champions National Tournament that will be hosted by the University of Kentucky in April.

In Policy Debate, the teams of Mira B. ‘24 and Andrea Y. ‘24 and Dylan L. ‘25 and Jordan Y. ‘26 are both already fully qualified to the Tournament of Champions after impressive performances all semester. Dylan and Jordan finished as runners up at the Marist Ivy Street Invitational and in Semifinals at the Meadows School Invitational. Most recently, Dylan and Jordan were crowned champions of the Arizona State University tournament in Policy Debate and currently rank as a Top-20 team in the United States.

 “I’m really proud of how hard the team is working this season. We’ve had success across multiple events and it is so rewarding to be able to celebrate the accomplishments of our teammates,” said Stella W. ‘24, this year’s team president.

Our speech students have also been hard at work creating their performances on a wide range of topics, including current events topics such as political developments in the United States, the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict, and more personal topics such as seeking recognition in an increasingly stressful world, and how social categorization can trivialize people’s identities. As Shelby T. ‘25, this year’s Limited Prep Speaking Captain said, "My favorite part about speech and debate is that we have the opportunity to advocate for the issues we care deeply about, while having lots of fun. When we're having fun - success follows."

As a full program, TAS was recently recognized as a Top 100 school in the NSDA, ranking as the 57th largest speech and debate program in the world. And the celebrations don’t stop there - MS coach Ian Hopkins also earned his first coaching diamond from the NSDA! Coaching diamonds are a recognition awarded to coaches with each diamond recognizing at least five years of coaching and 15,000 coaching points. Program Director Chase Williams was also recently recognized by Durham Academy with the Robert Sheard Excellence in Coaching Award “for continued dedication and contribution to the speech and debate community.”

 “The successes our students have achieved so far this year are a testament to their hard work and the tenacity that they have shown in moments of adversity. I of course love celebrating our students’ victories at these tournaments, but more important to me is the culture they build every week at practice - ensuring that everyone feels included and supported in our program. It’s that culture that will drive us as we enter our championship season at the end of this school year,” said Chase Williams, 6-12 Director of Speech and Debate.

As the Spring semester begins, our Tigers aren’t slowing down. This week the team is headed to Atlanta, Georgia for the Barkley Forum hosted by Emory University and will make stops in California, Kentucky, and Iowa over the next few months, as well as the IASAS Forensics and Debate Cultural Convention in Bangkok. As they continue to utilize their rhetorical and argumentation skills around the world, we will be cheering them on every step of the way!