The word “forensics” may bring to mind a favorite episode of a crime drama, but that’s not all it means. Forensics can also refer to an argumentative exercise—a debate.
For several students at , and high schools, the latter meaning more quickly comes to mind. The schools were well represented in state and national competitions in the 2010-2011 debate season.
“There is a tradition of debate at Parkway West,” said Cara Hurst, English teacher and the team’s sponsor for the past three seasons. “This has been our most successful year by far because the students worked so hard.”
West’s team was anchored by a strong group of seniors including Saad Amir, Taha Aziz, Zach Goldford, and Talan Tyminski. Four students, including Goldford and Tyminski, qualified for the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) tournament. Eight students earned the distinction of national qualifier and the team placed second at the National Forensics League District (NFL) tourney. They will compete at the NFL Tournament in Dallas in June.
Tyminski, who has been on the debate team for four years, placed sixth in the Original Oratory category at the MSHSAA Tournament, held in Columbia, MO. In this category, the student presents an original speech from memory on a topic of their choice. Tyminski earned a scholarship to Bradley University because of her work with the debate team, and said she plans to continue debate in college.
Amir, Aziz, Goldford and Tyminski have been selected to present the commencement addresses at Parkway West’s graduation ceremony.
Marquette High School fielded a debate team of about 35 students. Christopher Dopuch, senior, took second place in the Lincoln/Douglas debate category at the MSHSAA tourney. Lincoln/Douglas debates are one-on-one debates that focus on issues of value. Matt Johnson and Rohit Gummi earned third place in policy debate, which pits two-person teams against each other in a debate over issues of public policy. Marquette also took first place in the NFL District Sweepstakes, earning the most debate points of any team in the Eastern Missouri District.
“Winning the NFL Sweepstakes was a great accomplishment for the team,” Dennis Kane, debate sponsor, said. “And we have eight students who qualified for the June NFL tournament in Dallas, the most students we’ve ever sent.”
Kane and his assistant coach Dan Glossenger said they have a number of students who plan to continue debate during college.
Season highlights for Parkway Central’s debate team include a win in Public Form debate by seniors Bobby Ingram and Ben Kweskin at the MSHSAA District Championship. Parkway Central dominated the Granite City Tourney, with debaters winning both novice and varsity Public Forum and Student Congress events. Debaters who participate in Student Congress act as legislators, writing bills and then debating their merits.
“We have increased our debate team from four members to 44 members in four years. We have a strong team, and Ingram and Kweskin have a lot to do with the success of our team in the Public Forum event,” said Rob Proffitt, the team’s coach for the past four years.
Parkway Central sent three debate students to the state tournament. Five members of the debate team will compete at the NFL national tournament in June.
Anisha Gururaj, a Parkway Central senior and debate team member, finished first and received an $18,000 scholarship for her oration in the American Legion High School Oratorical Program. The win earned her an opportunity to represent Parkway Central in the NFL tournament.
The students said they chose to participate in debate for a variety of reasons and stayed for the camaraderie, challenge and competition.
Saad Amir, debate team president at Marquette, said he joined debate for the social benefits. “I have learned a lot academically from debate, but the social aspect of being on the team is just as great as the academics,” he said.
“Actually, when I was a freshman, my mom told me to look into the debate team,” said Bobby Ingram, a senior at Parkway Central. “I’m a competitive person and I liked the unique competitive opportunity of debate.”
The following students qualified for the NFL’s 2011 national tournament in Dallas in June:
Parkway Central High School: Linda Du, Anisha Gururaj, Bobby Ingram, Ben Kweskin and Audrey Van Leunen
Parkway West High School: Taha Aziz, Parag Dharmavarapu, Zach Goldford, Elani Owen, Greg Piccirillo, Annie Schuver, Jack Seigel, Talan Tyminski, Junaid Yasin and Saad Amir as an alternate.
Marquette High School: Stephen Ahal, Cameron Carlson, Christopher Dopuch, Bayley Flint, Rohit Gummi, Matt Johnson, Ashley Kuykendall, Aaron Malin
For more information on the National Forensics League or to view winning debate presentations, visit www.nflonline.org.