MLK Speech & Debate Invitational

Club moves forward with more success as they get ready for Stanford

Starting on Friday, January 15, the MLK Speech and Debate Invitational at Logan High School brought together participants from all over the country. Speakers and debaters flew in from Southern California and Texas to take part in the popular annual tournament. Among these were the speech and debaters of Irvington High School.

Irvington was successful with two parliamentary debate teams breaking to the playoffs, Captains Rohan Agarwal and Sahil Pandya (both juniors) as well as the team of Akshay Narayan and Rahul Bhatia (both juniors).  Although the tournament wasn’t a complete success for the Speech section, captains Paarth Shah and Tracy Liu (both juniors) look forward to the next tournament, the Stanford University Invitational, starting February 6. The tournament is one of the most popular of the year, but Irvington’s team seems to be confident that they can succeed.

The MLK  Invational challenged speakers and debaters to several rounds. Debate was scheduled to start immediately after school Friday afternoon with the first round at approximately 4 p.m.; however, the first round was already running late. With three rounds that same day, many of the participants were worn out by nightfall, and the quality of debate decreased. Junior Rahul Bhatia, a member of the Parliamentary Debate section, said, “The timings were so ridiculous that I had to debate at 11 at night, and that’s way after the time my brain stops functioning.” Like Rahul, the preparation rooms for all debates were filled with droopy eyes and reluctant laughter.  However, they all got through the third round and returned to their hotels and homes.

The crowd on Saturday was overwhelming as both Speech and Debaters gathered in the main courtyard of James Logan High School. Over 300 students were packed into the cafeteria, and everyone awaited the topics for their next round. As the topic for the fourth round, ‘Release the Pressure,’ was announced for Parliamentary Debate, Co-Captain Rohan Agarwal noted that, “The topics varied significantly in style and subject from round to round, providing interesting and educational debates.” Later, after all five preliminary debate rounds had come to an end, the participants waited anxiously for the results to see who had qualified for the ‘playoff’ rounds.

Away from the debaters, the participants in Speech started Saturday morning, only going through three rounds total before finding out who qualified to participate in the break rounds, or ‘playoffs.’