The online student news source of Lovejoy High School

The Red Ledger

The online student news source of Lovejoy High School

The Red Ledger

The online student news source of Lovejoy High School

The Red Ledger

Debate breaks school record on national qualifications

The Nationals Qualifiers stand with the plaques. The debate team will be competing in Louisville, Kentucky.
Courtesy of Lovejoy Debate
The Nationals Qualifiers stand with the plaques. The debate team will be competing in Louisville, Kentucky.

The speech and debate team surpassed their school record with 14 people qualifying for NSDA Nationals on Feb. 25- 26. Nationals will take place in Louisville, KY on June 12-17. 

At NSDA Nationals, they will compete against public and private schools from all over the country. Jannat Verma qualified for Lincoln-Douglas Debate and Sebastian Ramirez and Jonathan Zanzuti along with Paari Palani and David Wise for Policy Debate.

“Qualifying for the NSDA Nationals is a huge deal for any student in speech and debate,” debate teacher Jake Cosio said. “Only a small percentage of the thousands of students across the country are given this opportunity, so it is pretty special to get that qualification.”

In order to qualify for nationals, students have to finish in the top two of their event at the NSDA District Tournament. Kendall Carll and Tommy Pottinger qualified for the Public Forum Debate and Chisom Okorafor for Extemp.

It means a lot to each of the students,” Cosio said. “NSDA Nationals serves as the national championship for our activity, having the opportunity to compete at that level is special.”

Seniors Jude Wheatley and Sydney Stout qualified for Programmed Oral Interpretation, sophomore Abigail Rodriguez for Dramatic Interpretation and sophomores Romi Kahana and Alina Srambickal for Duo Interpretation. Wheatley is one of the co-captains for interpretation alongside senior Jordan Day.

“This year, we did the best we’ve ever done going to Nationals, so knowing that we had like 14 people going this year is amazing,” Wheatley said. “Considering last year, we only had nine people going, so it just shows that our team is continuously getting better and better as the years go on.”

There are 17-20 people on the varsity team this year. Junior Shruti Subramaniyan is one of them. She qualified for nationals with Informative Speaking after joining policy debate freshman year and switching to speech this year.

“I think we did really well especially considering we lost a lot of people after COVID-19 so not many people joined,” Subramaniyan said. “It’s not a lot of people at all because usually, we have two varsity classes, but this year, we only have one.”

Throughout the year, speech and debate compete in competitions against Centennial, Wylie, Rockwall, Melissa and other high schools.

“Overall, we have a super hardworking and dedicated team,” Cosio said. “Each of these students has devoted significant time to mastering the events in which they compete in order to be competitive at the highest levels of this activity.”

Students prepare for debate events through practice rounds, drills and topic analysis. For speech events, students cut scripts, write speeches and practice their delivery.

“We work together to set goals and work toward the goals in order to improve,” Cosio said. 

Students begin their tournaments with multiple preliminary rounds. From those, the top students advance to the elimination rounds until someone is declared the winner.

“After every tournament, we make the speech better, then try it out again, the new version and then take the judges critiques and make it even better,” Subramaniyan said. “When you compete at state or nationals, you have the best version of your speech that you’ve been modifying throughout the year.”

Speech and debate, depending on the student, compete two to three times a month, but they have to compete a total of four times a year.

“​Everyone else on the team may know that our hard work is coming up with great results,” Wheatley said. “It is very exciting to have that one physical object that I can pinpoint to and say, ‘My hard work led to this.’”

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Calla Patino
Calla Patino, Editor-In-Chief
Strolling into her third year on staff, senior Calla Patino is ecstatic to be back in the newsroom as an Editor-In-Chief, leaving her summer days of folding clothes behind. If she’s not in the newsroom, she can almost always be found at Celebration Park running her miles with her teammates, trying to breathe. Towards the end of the day, Patino enjoys baking her “famous” snickerdoodles, as it’s the only recipe she has perfected in the kitchen, and flip-flopping between Netflix and Hulu. Patino loves her family’s weekly BBQs and making time to hang out with friends. Patino is obsessed with cinnamon-flavored anything, relaxing in the movie club with a bag of popcorn in her hand and traveling to South Africa. Patino hopes to go into journalism after she graduates, but as for now, she can’t wait for this school year to begin. 

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