Debate Students Compete at TFA State and Receive Academic All American Award

John Park, Managing Editor of News and Feature

Seniors Zach Jones and Josh Smith recently made it to Quarterfinals in CX and senior Phoenix Pittman made it to triple-octafinals in LD at the TFA State competition March 11-13. This tournament was held virtually and the students came up to the high school to compete.
“With this strange year, I [didn’t] really have any [expectations],” speech and debate coordinator Rory McKenzie said. “This is gravy at this point. We [had] some students who are state veterans who [hoped] to equal or better their performances. Our seniors definitely [wanted] to give this their best shot. We believe in the value of our activity and think that students who give up their time, and Spring Break, are already winning and growing.”
Besides the three seniors, juniors Aryan Patel and Gavin James, sophomore Sarah Kramer, and freshman Charlotte McConathy also qualified. After the first six preliminary rounds in CX, Smith was placed as top speaker and Jones was third, and their team was placed as top seed.
“Going into this tournament, we didn’t have very high expectations,” Smith said. “After not debating for about four months, having a successful run as we had was a really rewarding final experience with TFA.”

Going into this tournament, we didn’t have very high expectations. After not debating for about four months, having a successful run as we had was a really rewarding final experience with TFA. ”

— Senior Josh Smith


Jones, Smith, Pittman, and senior Brock Hines also recently received the Academic All American Award. According to the NSDA site, this award recognizes high school students who have earned the degree of Superior Distinction (750 points), completed at least 5 semesters of high school, demonstrated outstanding character and leadership, and earned a GPA of 3.7 on a 4.0 scale. They also must have received an ACT score of 27 or higher, or a new SAT score of 1300 or higher.
“The award is a way to honor students who have competed at high degrees and continued their success in the classroom, and in their character,” McKenzie said. “It’s always a special honor because something like only 2% of students in the country earn it. It’s recognition for a dedicated and meaningful career.”