Thomas Jefferson’s Debate Team proves they are ready for prime time.
by Lauren Abrams
On November 14th and 15th at Manual High School, Thomas Jefferson’s Speech and Debate Team took 2nd place overall in their intense competition against three other high schools, and TJ proved all their hard work from the previous month had paid off.
TJ competed in six rounds against George Washington, Martin Luther King, and Manual high schools. “We were the only school to have two teams go into the semi-finals,” said Teacher-Sponsor Waunetta Vann.
Asia Dorsey took first place in the overall speaker awards, and Nandi Thompson took third place. The two also compete as a group, and were the only team to advance to the finals.
Vann is a recent graduate from Denver University, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Studies and her teaching license. “Ms. Just said they were lacking a sponsor for the club, so she asked me if I would consider it,” said Vann.
Thomas Jefferson competed in one other debate besides this month’s, which took place at Martin Luther King Middle College School, and the team took 2nd place overall. Bethany Gillespie took first place in the speaker awards, and four TJ teams walked away with only one loss.
Other highlights from the November competition include 5th place going to Christian Ulrickson, and 8th place went to Byron Martinez-Moore. Additional awards went to Bethany Gillespie and Lorraine Seals-Williams who took 4th place, and Asia Dorsey and her partner Nandi Thompson who took 2nd place in the team sweepstakes overall.
Members of the Speech and Debate Team go into their competitions with much preparation, and are even receiving real-world critiques on all of their research and gathered information. “We have what is called a ‘Dream Team’, which consists of a team of lawyers who help improve our kids’ arguments before a debate,” said Vann.
“Speech is an amazing opportunity for individuals to take their speaking skills that they already possess and put them to good use. The club also refines skills that we all already have,” said Asia Dorsey.
All students are encouraged to join, and the team will be taking new members all year. “It’s never too late to join. Students who decide to join must be ready to work hard and catch up,” said Vann. Any students who are interested can either start attending Tuesday or Thursday practices or go see Vann in the tutoring center (room 4).
“My personal goal is to have as many teams as possible. We want to dominate the other schools this year,” said Vann.