This summer, Westridge Debate headed to the National Speech & Debate Tournament, and the middle schoolers came out strong with five 8th graders taking home top honors.
Above: Westridge Debate at the 2017 National Speech and Debate Tournament in June in Birmingham, Alabama.
This was a revelation for a team that had only recently begun to grow its presence on campus, with a new coaching staff joining the team during the 2016-2017 school year. With then a total of 45 members, only 15 of those members were Middle School students.
Since last year, that number has tripled. In the 2017-2018 school year, there are 44 7th graders alone on the debate team at Westridge.
"There's been a sudden wave of interest in speech and debate among the Middle Schoolers," Coach Gia Karpouzis said. "We're especially excited to see the 7th grade class driving the team forward in such a positive way."
At Nationals 2017, many of the Middle School members were ranked among the top 14 in the nation, including:
Juliana F. '21 - Top 14 Humorous Interpretation
Juliana F. '21 - Top 14 Declamation
Audrey L. '21 - 2nd place Expository Speaking
Felicity P. '21 - Top 16 Lincoln-Douglas Debate
Cara W. '21 - Top 14 Congressional Debate
The success of the team last year may have played a role in the expanded interest this year, said Coach Karpouzis, but either way, having so many new Middle School members join Westridge Debate has impacted the team exponentially. "Westridge Debate is quick-growing and the girls are wildly passionate about what they do," she added. "Having such a big addition to the team has motivated a string of peer learning. Having a huge up-and-coming part of the debate team has brought the older members closer together as they try to help the 7th graders navigate the waters of speech and debate."