Debate team members enjoy success

By Gisselle Washington | Staff Writer |

The debate team is on track to having another successful season with seniors Matthew Mandell and Valeria Najera advancing to the TFA state tournament on March 14-16 in Houston, Texas. Others advanced to UIL state after placing at the preliminary round at UIL Congress and invitational meets such as the one previously attended at Churchill.

“This year we’re doing good,” Debate coach Jennifer Purcell  said. “We won some trophies. We’ve got couple people that have advanced to UIL State and Congress. We have three people that have qualified for TFA state.”

The team competed recently on Jan. 11 at Churchill, one of the most challenging tournaments in San Antonio, with competitors from San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi, and parts of Houston.

“This year I did a little bit better than last year,” Mandell said. “So last year I got eighth in congressional debate, which is my main event, but this year I got third. So that was really important because people who get top six get a bid to the tournament of champions which is like nationals but better. So it was really exciting to do well because I have a lot of friends and I’m really close with the Churchill team and [that tournament]has always been a very personal tournament for me.”

Qualifiers who competed at the UIL State congress underwent immense practice in preparation for the event on January 7-9.

Lea Hartman, Matthew Mandell and Nathan Puckett competed at the state congress meet in January.

“We’ve been preparing all year since summer basically,” Najera said.

“The people who do congress they have to write out their speeches for each and every topic they have to debate. And for me, I have a whole 10 minute speech written since September that I have to remember and I memorized it.”

Debate gives students the chance to debate topics close to them and give them a voice which is all Purcell says she wants her students to take away from it.

“I just want them to be able to discuss with others things that are going on in the world,” Purcell said. “I want them to know and to be able to stand up for themselves, to be able to have their voice heard. If there’s an injustice, I want them to be able to not be afraid to step up and say something.”