Upper school debaters head to Texas for first tournament of school year


Courtesy of Jenny Achten

Cindy Wang (11), Clarissa Wang (11), Jacob Ohana (12), Alan Hughes (12), Kelly Shen (11), Megan Huynh (12) and Anusha Kuppahally (11) pose for a photo at the Grapevine tournament. Team Cindy and Clarissa advanced to the octofinals in public forum and team Megan and Anusha advanced to the octofinals in policy debate.

by Tiffany Wong, Aquila News Editor

Seven upper school debaters traveled to Grapevine, Texas to attend the Grapevine Classic Speech and Debate Tournament from Sept. 7 to 10.

Public forum team Cindy Wang (11) and Clarissa Wang (11), Lincoln-Douglas debater Kelly Shen (11) and the policy debate teams of Alan Hughes (12) and Jacob Ohana (12) and of Megan Huynh (12) and Anusha Kuppahally (11) represented Harker at the event. Cindy and Clarissa advanced to the octofinals in public forum, and Megan and Anusha advanced to the octofinals in policy debate.

“For a return to the season, that was a pretty good showing, and it gives us a sense of what direction we need to work in for the rest of the season,” Cindy said. “I think the flow of the judges for this tournament was really specific; there were no parents, but in general for our event we would like to appeal to more of the general public and not just debaters or people who know the common jargon for debate.”

The Grapevine tournament marked the first debate tournament for the upper school’s speech and debate team for this school year and invited students from over 90 schools in 12 states. Lincoln-Douglas, public forum and policy debaters all participated in five preliminary rounds before elimination rounds began on Sunday, while Congressional debate finals began on Saturday.

Grapevine is a qualifying tournament for the annual Tournament of Champions (TOC) held at the University of Kentucky in April; debaters who advanced to the quarterfinals in Lincoln-Douglas, public forum and policy and the top six qualifiers for Congressional debate all earned one bid to the TOC.

“I was really excited that we had winning records in all three debate events. Although I’m sure the students would have been happy to have advanced one more round, I think it was a solid start in a very tough tournament,” debate coach and trip chaperone Jenny Achten said.

Prior to the Grapevine tournament, the speech and debate team held their annual parent information meeting in Nichols Auditorium last Wednesday. The speech and debate team’s next tournament will be held at St. Francis High School this weekend.