Taking Nationals By Storm: Speech and Debate’s Story of Success


(Image courtesy of the National Speech and Debate Association)

While most of us have been sitting around in our pajamas with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s (rocky road all the way), ACP’s Speech and Debate team has been fighting tooth and nail in the National Speech and Debate Association’s official national tournament from June 12th-20th. Throughout the past three years, our very own team has been rising through the ranks. Under the tutelage of Mr. Rumsey and many other dedicated coaches, these intelligent, talkative, and passionate kids have been able to flaunt their skills on a national stage. I had the opportunity to speak to one of the three quarter-finalists on the team, Ananya Lakohtia, about her unique experience in an online debate tournament.

Ananya Lakohtia (Photo courtesy of Mrs. Lakohtia)

Q: Was this your first time at nationals? How were you feeling about it?

A:  Yes, this was my first time at nationals. If I’m being honest, I kind of forgot about it until two or three weeks before the tournament because I hadn’t even “met” the team yet, and I was beyond busy with AP tests. I went into nationals with relatively low expectations because everyone competing there is the best of the best in their area, which can be really intimidating. On the other hand, I love the team I competed with and was excited to finally debate with them! I also feel like nationals gave me a new kind of confidence in my abilities. It was like a “yay, I made it!” moment.

Q: Could you give our readers more of an insight on the type of debate you do?

A: I usually do public forum debate, which is about discussing current events in politics around the world. However, for nationals, I competed in World Schools debate that mixes statistics and facts with morality-based arguments with an emphasis on being accessible to the public. This was a new style and I only had two weeks to prepare.

Q: How was the tournament run? Was it online?

A: The tournament is usually in person. However, because of COVID-19, they ran it online this year. That was definitely an interesting experience to say the least!

Q: What resolution did you have the easiest time with? How about the hardest?

A: World Schools was really hard in terms of resolutions because we had to debate around seven different topics and ended up preparing for both sides (for and against) for most of them. Let’s just say we love pulling all-nighters in the middle of summer. I have to say my favorite topic was either “This House supports the green new deal” or “This House believes that film awards should be limited to those passing the Bechdel-Wallace test.” My least favorite/hardest to debate was “This House believes that former colonial powers should remove all restrictions on immigration for citizens from their foreign countries.”

Q: What is your favorite part about a debate tournament in general and why?

A: My favorite time during tournaments is always the tiny bit of downtime (if we even have any) before and after rounds. I love debating, and the rounds themselves are interesting but there’s something special about being able to take a minute to form friendships with people from other teams or to even take a minute and chill with your own.

Q: I have to know, how did you react when that gorgeous trophy showed up at your door?

A: Honestly, my first reaction was really “wow, this is heavy.” After the initial shock, it felt so satisfying and rewarding to have something that represented all the time and effort that goes into speech and debate.

Ananya’s trophy from the NSDA’s national tournament. (Photo courtesy of Ananya Lakohtia)

Thank you and congrats again to Ananya and the rest of our wonderful Speech and Debate team. Here’s to more wins in the future and go Knights!