Debate team offers guidance to younger kids

February 24, 2010 — by Saniha Shankar and Abhi Venkataramana

Forty Redwood Middle Schools got their first taste of speech and debate at the high school level Jan. 24 at a short camp organized by speech and debate captain Varun Parmar —the first such meeting that has occurred in many years. The camp included an overview of high school speech and debate, an explanation of the events available and an introduction to public speaking.

“I decided to have a camp for middle school kids because I wish that I had the opportunity to start speech and debate early on, since it’s an important skill to have that often isn’t emphasized in school classes,” said Parmar.

Senior captains Saniha Shankar and Rishabh Jethanandani helped coach the students and offer tips. The camp also featured an extemporaneous speech given by sophomore Viraj Parmar and a Humorous Interpretation speech by junior David Mandell. After spending the first half of the day learning and listening, students were given the chance to participate in debates about banning cellphones, gun control and merit pay for teachers.

“I thought it went really well––the turnout was double the amount that was expected,” said Parmar. “At the end of it, I felt that some students had the skill to compete at even the novice high school level.”

In addition to training future speech and debate club members, it also gave current team members an opportunity to practice for the final stretch of the season. With only two tournaments left in the season, Berkeley and the State Qualifying Tournament, team members are looking to end the season on a high note.

“We’ve had a lot of success in our recent tournaments,” said Parmar, “so hopefully we can continue to do well in our final tournaments of the year.”

At the Stanford Tournament, held Feb. 6-8, the team had one of its best performances of the year in what was arguably the season’s most competitive tournament, said coach Erick Rector. Junior Vance Lindholm won first place in National Extemperaneous Speech and semi- finaled in Domestic Extemporaneous Speech. The teams of juniors Vijay Menon and Abhishek Venkataramana and Daryl Chang and Nikhil Maheshwari both advanced to octa-finals.

At the James Logan High School Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Tournament held from Jan. 18-20, almost all of the team members advanced past preliminary rounds. In varsity parliamentary debate, the team of juniors Keerti Shukla and Venkataramana advanced to quarter finals and the teams of junior Karthik Annaamalai and Jethanandani and sophomores Anoop Galivanche and Anshu Sirapurapu both advanced to double-octafinals. In extemperaneous speech, Lindholm and sophomore Viraj Parmar advanced to semi-finals. In Humorous Interpretation, Mandell advanced to semi-finals.

The team also fared well at the Santa Clara University Tournament on Dec. 10. In varsity parliamentary debate, Venkataramana and Menon placed third. Annaamalai and Jethanandani advanced to octa-finals. In Congress, Shukla placed first, while sophomore Vishal Goel placed fifth. In Humorous Interperation, Mandell placed third.

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