Taft’s debate team won first place in a recent competition against opponents Brooks, Chicago Ag, Kenwood, Lindblom, Lincoln Park, Phoenix, Pritzker, and Von Steuben.
During Blue Conference competition, sophomore Phoebe Tozer won the Shout out Award for the second consecutive tournament and was nominated on an unprecedented 5 different ballots. Sophomore Hugo Gehant finished in eleventh place individual speaker and Tozer was the third place individual speaker. They had a 7-0 record, winning all 13 judges ballots during the tournament.
“I will be first to admit, I wasn’t expecting amazing things this tournament for us. I personally had been very busy and felt ill-prepared for the new items that were available to the teams, and our opponents seemed to become much better at debating as we went from Tournament 1 to Tournament 2, something that I thought would be a continued trend. I was not wrong, and the competition was quite difficult at times. The fact that we won is pretty amazing to me.” said Gehant via email.
Gehant and Tozer didn’t expect they would make it to finals or be undefeated. Gehant found it nice to see the work they put into debate to have a direct impact on their motivation to continue to work in order to stay successful.
Academic center students Ashna Sahni and Saisha Kapoor were placed in the Silver Conference with a 5-2 record, finishing up the tournament on a 4 round winning streak. They were placed in the wrong conference, but Kapoor was the 6th place individual speaker, and Sahni was the 1st place individual speaker.
“I would like to give a shout out to our amazing coaches, Mr. Cohen and Ms. Walz, for their incredible hard work and dedication to the entire team as well as our peers in the debate club who helped and encouraged us along the way. Ashna and I are in 7th grade and we were possibly the youngest people to compete in the tournament. So, the fact that we won against high schools from all around Chicago is incredible!” said Kapoor via email.
Sahni and Kapoor are both the youngest students that competed in the high school debate tournament. This was their second tournament they competed in. Their first tournament they only won 1 out of 5 rounds. They took time to reflect on their loss and used the feedback from judges to improve their arguments to make them impactful. Sahni has been doing debate for a year and Kapoor just started debate a few months ago.
Alexandra Boyke and Payton Johnson had a 3-2 record against an abnormally challenging slate of opponents. Boyke was the 15th place individual speaker.
The next tournament will take place January 22 and the 21 with the blue and silver conferences. Taft is part of the blue conference. This tournament will be optional for the debaters.