The Desert Vista High School speech and debate team recently placed second at the 2014 National Speech and Debate Tournament.
The team traveled last month to Overland Park, Kan., and competed against more than 2,750 students from more than 1,000 schools across the nation from June 15 through June 20. Reaching the national competition is a success in itself, as more than 15,000 students from 3,500 schools attempted to quality for nationals.
Simon Essig Aberg, Ryan Fedasiuk and Prianka Kumar, who will being entering their senior year at Desert Vista, competed in Congressional Debate where 250 students competed against one another.
“It’s basically set up as a mock Congress where we all were pretending to be representatives or senators depending on whether we were in the House or the Senate,” Kumar said.
Fedasiuk said that during the Congressional Debate they had to give informative and negative speeches on pieces of legislation submitted and written by students. They debated with each team about the piece of legislation within different periods of cross examinations, with each session lasted nearly three hours.
Kumar said it was difficult at times to stay focused throughout the weeklong competition, but the team lifted each other’s spirit.
“We relied on each other a lot for motivation and energy,” she said. “In all the breaks that we had, we would come together as a team and talked to one another to keep morale up.”
Philip Mackenzie competed in the humor portion of the competition and participated in six preliminary rounds. Mackenzie was given a script and had to cut it down to 10 minutes of dialogue. He then preformed it in front of the judges.
Congressional Debate coach Brittany Stanchik said students worked on general skills throughout the school year to prepare for nationals.
“When it came down to this tournament in particular, it was about giving the speeches and perfecting them,” she said.
Fellow Congressional Debate coach Brendan Porter said students worked on memorizing the speeches six hours a day for a month before the competition.
Fedasiuk said it was an amazing experience to place second in the nation, which was an improvement from last year’s fourth-place finish.
“Going into it, we didn’t really think that we would be all that successful. Originally, we had a smaller team from last year and a lot of younger people that weren’t really seniors; people that weren’t as seasoned as last year’s team,” he said. “We just really pulled through and took second place, which was fantastic.”
The four seniors will work toward improving their game for next year’s national competition with one goal in mind: To continue to build on the success they have generated over the years.
“Personally, I would like to be more successful that what I was this year. I would like to place not just in the final round of national-level tournaments, but advance to the top six levels,” Fedasiuk said.
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