Hilltalkers And Hawktalkers To Compete In National Speech & Debate Tournament

Teamphoto.jpegHilltalkers Speech and Debate Team members. Photo Courtesy LAPS


The Los Alamos High School Hilltalkers Speech and Debate team is proud to announce their 2019 qualifiers for the National Tournament to be held in June in Dallas, TX. The Hilltalkers sent 13 outstanding speakers and debaters to compete at the New Mexico National Speech and Debate Association National Qualifying Tournament at Albuquerque Academy on March 21-23. Of those 13, eight Hilltalkers have advanced to the National Tournament.

Qualifying to compete at the National Tournament is a grueling process that includes double elimination rounds in speech and debate events. All 13 Hilltalkers who competed were strong performers who made it out of preliminary rounds and, in many cases, were finalists and alternates in their events. Only those placing first or second place can advance to compete at the National Tournament in June. Of the eight Hilltalkers who qualified, seven of them are products of the Los Alamos Middle School Speech and Debate program.

 “I’m so proud of the hard work and preparation that all of our Hilltalkers put into their events. The National Qualifying tournament is extremely competitive and these students rose to the occasion,” said Batha. “I’m especially proud of Antonio Dowdy and Sam Menefee for being National Qualifiers four years in a row. Qualifying four years in a row is a huge achievement and we’re looking forward to seeing them recognized at the National Tournament for this achievement.”

The following students qualified to compete at the National Tournament:

Antonio Dowdy – Lincoln Douglas Debate

Malea Joyce – Informative Speaking

Nilesh Mukundan – United States Extemporaneous Speaking

Neha Sadasivan – Original Oratory

Emily Holmes, Gopal Nadiga, Sam Menefee, and Sonyia Williams – New Mexico World Schools Debate team

The National Qualifying Tournament caps a strong season for the Hilltalkers and the Hawktalkers. The Hilltalkers competed in multiple tournaments in New Mexico and traveled to tournaments in Texas and Illinois.

At the New Mexico State Speech tournament in February, students placed in multiple events including:

Eleanor Henderson – first place, Humorous Interpretation

Antonio Dowdy – first place, US Extemporaneous Speaking

Leah Wolfsberg – third place, Humorous Interpretation

Malea Joyce – finalist, Original Oratory and Informative Speaking

Gopal Nadiga – finalist, International Extemporaneous Speaking

Lexi Alcala – finalist, International Extemporaneous Speaking

Carlos and Miguel Chacon – third place, Duo Interpretation

Sonyia Williams – finalist, Dramatic Interpretation

Olivia Koo – finalist, Informative Speaking

Ellery Leirmo – finalist, Original Oratory

At the State Debate tournament in March, seniors Antonio Dowdy and Sam Menefee tied for first place in Lincoln Douglas Debate. Dowdy also brought home the William and Cat Bennett trophy for Outstanding Speaker in Lincoln Douglas Debate. Dowdy was also a finalist in Congressional Debate. Additionally, Hawktalker Yun Kim was a finalist in State Congressional Debate.

To fundraise for the Hilltalkers’ travel to Dallas and next year’s expenses for the Hilltalkers and the Hawktalkers, the team is planning a High Tea Showcase at Fuller Lodge on Sunday, May 5 at 2:00 pm. The Hilltalkers will perform their award-winning speeches and there will be musical entertainment. Tickets for the Showcase are $20 each and include refreshments. To purchase tickets for the showcase, please contact Sherri Bublitz at s.bublitz@laschools.net.