Forensic Speech and Debate is preparing for Nationals.

Speech and Debate members are in the midst of qualifying for nationals.

Speech and Debate have started their preparation for Nationals and through the coming weeks, students are earning their places to debate in Phoenix, Arizona. 

“We practice twice a week for main events and once a month-ish for Congress, so working with my team at those times is great,” senior Kianna Grey commented. 

Nationals is the highest level of competition for all who participate in speech and debate. 

“It is challenging but is a worthwhile culmination of the season’s work,” Grey recalled. 

Senior Elaine Zou is the first person at  Air Academy High School to qualify for the 2023 nationals. 

“I have qualified twice before. Sophomore year I didn’t go and last year I had everything booked and the week before nats I got Covid,” Zou reflected.

Even with the previous years not working out for her, Zou feels extra excited to attend this year’s competition. 

“So I’m super excited. Hopefully, some of my teammates will qualify this weekend (2/11 to 2/12) and we can go together as a big team,” Zou exclaimed. 

Though some team members are able to take the opportunity to go to Nationals, not all have the ability to. 

“I do my last meet on Saturday (2/4) I’m not going to national qualifications for anything because I cannot go to nationals,” senior Sarah McDowell commented. 

McDowell went on to explain how there are a limited amount of members who can attend national qualifiers and state. National qualifiers and state allow for AAHS students to earn a spot in the national division. Nationals bring on new a kind of difficulty for members. 

“It presents a new challenge because different regions do things slightly differently. There is a unified manual of rules, but attitudes and tendencies vary across the nation,” Grey said. 

The tendencies that members adapt to within their region have to change with new people and events being brought to nationals. The preparation for Nationals have intensive practice to help combat the unknown factors students face.

“Nationals is a lot of preparation too. So it’s a lot of really honing our speaking skills, for debate and research-based events it’s a lot of research and things like that,” Zou stated. 

Preparations focus on more than honing on topics. 

“A lot of preparation is really just running performances again and again until you address judge criticism,” Grey said. 

Nationals allow for students of all different events to participate. 

“Debate has so many events. Even there are events that we just don’t do in our local circuit. But like there’s so many events and we have supplemental events too,” Zou commented. 

Nationals hold a small percentage of competitors and winners, a total of 42 winners out of  6,000+ students who compete. 

“Freshman year I was a quarterfinalist in congressional debate…junior year I qualified in US extemp…I got third place,” Grey reflected. 

For Grey and McDowell it’s the end of their senior year and speech and debate season but for many others, National Qualifiers and State Qualifiers will allow them to keep their season going and gain the spot to compete at nationals this year. For Elaine Zou and other qualifiers, their preparations start in May for the National competition.