Speech and debate starts coming together September 16, 2009 — by Saniha Shankar and Abhishek Venkataramana While most clubs wait until after Club Day to get started, the speech and debate team has already been hard at work over the summer preparing for its season, which begins Sept. 25 with the Robert Garcia Tournament at St. Francis High School. While most clubs wait until after Club Day to get started, the speech and debate team has already been hard at work over the summer preparing for its season, which begins Sept. 25 with the Robert Garcia Tournament at St. Francis High School. Saratoga alumni Aroon Vijaykar and Aditya Ullal came together to host the second annual speech and debate camp for all those interested in joining the club during the school year. The program was a week-long boot camp at Saratoga High school that helped introduce incoming students to speech and debate and helped current members of the team get ready to go by the time the season officially kicked off. “The summer camp is a great setting for team bonding,” said Ullal. “I want to bring the team closer together during the year, and I think we are going to be ahead of other teams during the actual season.” English teacher Erick Rector will continue as the head of speech and debate and is looking forward to another successful and rewarding year. “I think we are going to have a great season this year,” said Rector. “We have a lot of experienced teams as well as new teams who are all looking to win this year.” Rector is bringing in several alumni to help with coaching specific events. During the regular season, SHS alumni and Stanford junior Varun Sivaram, along with SHS alumni and Berkeley junior Aditya Ullal will be returning to help coach the team and help out with Extemporaneous Speech and Congress during the regular weekly meeting. In addition, 2007 National Collegiate Debate Champion Stanford senior Anish Mitra will coach Parliamentary Debate. In addition to the coaches, captains, who were chosen last year based on experience and responsibility, will assist in running the practices. Junior Keerti Shukla and senior Varun Parmar are the co-captains of the team. Junior Abhi Venkataramana and senior Rishabh Jethanandani were chosen as captains of Parliamentary Debate. Junior Vance Lindholm was chosen as Extemporaneous captain and senior Saniha Shankar is Congress Captain. Senior Nihal Ruparel is Public Forum captain. Junior Vijay Menon was chosen as Impromptu captain. “This year we have a lot of students that are showing interest in this club and hopefully this year we will be able to expand the team to include more people that actively participate and attend tournaments,” said Parmar. In the past there has been a lot of talent coming from Congress, Extemporaneous speaking, and Parliamentary Debate, and this year the team is looking to strength the individual events. Another major change in the speech and debate program is that parent leader Janaki Shukla has stepped down this year after years of involvement. “We really couldn’t have run this organization without [Shukla], she held our team together for years,” said Rector. She will be passing on the torch to Judy Ting and Mira Parmar to head the parent committee.