Speech & Debate Competitions at Emory University

David Peng

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From January 27th to 29th, four SHS students competed in the national Barkley Forum for High Schools Speech and Debate tournament at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Since there are not many Speech and Debate Tournaments in the south, Emory was a special competition for all the Scarsdale students that attended. “It’s an interesting judging experience because they have judges from all over the country. There were lots of different perspectives,” stated Michael Landau ’17. Landau, who competed in Debate, won four rounds and lost two, but didn’t break.

Lauren Singer ’17, who also participated in debate, received the same overall score as Landau, similarly winning four rounds and losing two. Although she did not break into the next round of the Lincoln-Douglas debate category, she was mostly satisfied with how she did. “It’s more of a speech tournament, but I always find it fun to see people from schools that I wouldn’t normally see, since the competitors there tend to be from different states than local tournaments,” said Lauren Singer ’17.   “[Emory’s] known as one of the most challenging tournaments during the year in [Lincoln-Douglas], so a score of 4-2 was solid,” remarked Singer.

In the speech category, both of the Scarsdale students made it into the final rounds of their events. Arjun Ravi ’18 competed in Extemporaneous Speaking and Original Oratory, which involve delivering speeches on both political topics and personal stories. Although Ravi placed 9th overall in the Extemp category, he was still slightly critical of his judges. “It was pretty rough judging I’d say. There’s a whole slew of political opinions, especially because these judges are from all different states, 31 exactly,” recounted Ravi. Many of the questions Ravi received were about President Trump. “There are so many people with different political opinions judging the speech that giving a speech pro Trump or against Trump could affect the judging, even though it shouldn’t,” explained Ravi.

The other speech competitor, Zach Kapner ’17, participated in Original Oratory and Oral Interpretation. His second time at Emory, Kapner also found the judging at Emory unique. “What makes Emory interesting is that it is the biggest tournament that is located in what I call the ‘true south’ because there are many Florida tournaments throughout the season and there are some tournaments that are more centralized. Emory is the place to go,” remarked Kapner. Kapner was able to break in both of his events. “I’m an Extemper, and to be successful in my second and third category this weekend was really big for me,” noted Kapner.

Both Ravi and Kapner will be receiving Silver Keys, which are trophies from the tournament. The students had to catch their flight and were unable to attend the trophy ceremony, so a friend in Florida is going to send them the trophies. While at Emory, the students also dined at some Southern restaurants and hung out with friends they had met at previous tournaments.

For the seniors, Emory is one of their last tournaments while representing SHS. “Debate has been a huge part of my life for the last 4 years, so I’m finding that as I’m nearing the end of senior year I’m appreciating each individual tournament more,” noted Singer. Overall, Scarsdale finished well at Emory.  Now, the SHS Speech and Debate teams are beginning to prepare for the larger tournaments at the end of the season.