Los Alamos High School Hilltalkers celebrating being at the National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky are, back row from left, Luke Favorite, Maximus Posada, Rylee Mechum and Keturah Sherrill. Front row: Philippa Fung, Yunseo Kim, Uxue Sansinena and Taylor Kanzleiter. Photo Courtesy LAPS
LAHS rising sophomore Uxue Sansinena finished 42nd of 246 competitors in Lincoln Douglas Debate at the National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament June 11-18. Photo Courtesy LAPS
Yunseo Kim, pictured here with Hilltalkers Coach Margo Batha, finished 7th out of 235 competitors in the Program Oral Interpretation event. This is the strongest finish the Hilltalkers have ever had in Interpretation Events. Photo Courtesy LAPS
LAPS NEWS RELEASE
The Los Alamos High School Hilltalkers Speech and Debate team is proud to announce the results from their competition at the National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament on June 11-18 in Louisville, KY. Hilltalkers Luke Favorite, Philippa Fung, Taylor Kanzleiter, Yunseo Kim, Rylee Mechum, Maximus Posada, Uxue Sansinena, and Keturah Sherrill qualified to compete at the National Tournament at the highly competitive New Mexico District qualifying tournament in March. Their qualification puts them in the top two percent of speakers and debaters in the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA).
This year’s tournament was the largest in NSDA history with over 8,500 students participating across the three divisions offered: Online Supplemental Events, online middle school, and in-person high school. For the online supplemental events and in-person high school division, students competed throughout the year at one of 111 district tournaments to qualify for Nationals. Schools are allowed a certain number of entries to the district tournament. Districts are allocated a number of qualifiers based on the size of the district and their growth. The National Speech & Debate Tournament is the pinnacle of public speaking and considered the largest academic competition in the nation.
The Hilltalkers competed in the following events: Luke Favorite and Maximus Posada, Extemporaneous Debate; Rylee Mechum and Keturah Sherrill, Duo Interpretation; Philippa Fung and Talylor Kanzleiter, Duo Interpretation; Yunseo Kim, Program Oral Interpretation; and Uxue Sansinena, Lincoln Douglas Debate. Each member of the Hilltalkers made the most of their time at the tournament by getting to know speakers and debaters from all over the United States and enjoying a team dinner with their fellow competitors from New Mexico.
Following a week of intense competition among more than 5,000 high school students from 1,194 schools, Hilltalker Yunseo Kim finished 7th of 235 competitors in the tournament in her event of Program Oral Interpretation (POI). Program Oral Interpretation relies on the performer’s ability to portray a wide range of characters and literature all held together under a common theme. Each program must contain at least two of the three genres and students are encouraged to include all three. The literature chosen for this event focuses on making an interesting argument that is supported in different ways by each piece of literature selected. Kim’s finish in POI is the strongest finish that the Hilltalkers have ever had in Interpretation events.
“I’m so honored and grateful to be part of an activity that empowers me to find my own voice and share my story,” Kim said. “Beyond competition, Speech and Debate is a powerful platform that has allowed me to listen to other peoples’ unspoken stories and empathize with their experiences. It was so inspiring to be surrounded by thousands of diverse, young students like myself who want to raise awareness about the shortcomings of our own country in order to make this world a kinder, brighter, and more loving place.”
Rising sophomore Uxue Sansinena had a strong finish in her event, Lincoln Douglas Debate, a debate event focused on values. Sansinena finished 42nd of 246 competitors in Lincoln Douglas Debate.
All of the Hilltalkers who attended the tournament agreed that competing in a live, in-person tournament was a great experience after competing for the past two years in a virtual setting. Coach Margo Batha stated, “Being able to compete in person was inspiring after two years of virtual competition. The Hilltalkers are so excited to start in person competition in New Mexico in August.”
The Hilltalkers would like to thank the family of Sophia Feldman and the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation and Los Alamos Public Schools for their support with funding this trip. The Hilltalkers also want to acknowledge the outstanding support of their parent judges and chaperones: Randy Kanzleiter, Hyunjoo Kim, Yongho Kim, and Jill Sherrill.
At the ninety-second National Tournament, students debated tough topics covering trade agreements with Taiwan, civil liberties, and environmental issues. Other championship performances ranged from interpretation of literature to public address to events where students have a limited amount of time to prepare a speech on a current event they’ve been assigned. “Every year, our national champions prove that students who participate in speech and debate have a superpower that they can use to change the world,” said J. Scott Wunn, Executive Director of the National Speech & Debate Association. “This year, despite a global pandemic, these champions showed that shuttered schools couldn’t stop them from sharing their message. We can’t wait to learn what comes next for these future leaders.”
This year’s tournament was the largest in NSDA history with over 8,500 students participating across the three divisions offered: Online Supplemental Events, online middle school, and in-person high school. For the online supplemental events and in-person high school division, students competed throughout the year at one of 111 district tournaments to qualify for Nationals. Schools are allowed a certain number of entries to the district tournament. Districts are allocated a number of qualifiers based on the size of the district and their growth.
The National Speech & Debate Tournament is the pinnacle of public speaking and considered the largest academic competition in the nation.
About the National Speech & Debate Association
The National Speech & Debate Association is the authority on public speaking and debate in the United States. The Association builds the infrastructure for speech and debate competitions around the world by providing topics, educational resources, and training for students and coaches. For nearly 100 years, the National Speech & Debate Association has built a platform for youth voices that culminates in the National Tournament, the largest academic competition in the world. For more information, visit www.speechanddebate.org.