Irvington’s Speech and Debate teams attends Santa Clara University Invitational


Sampreeth Moturi (12) and Rachit Pareek (11) as well as William Yoo (11) and Rishabh Meswani (12) were octo finalists in Parliamentary Open, meaning that they placed in the top 16. Akanksha Jain (12) was also an octofinalist in Lincoln-Douglas Open.

Caitlin Chen, Editor-in-Chief

Irvington’s Speech and Debate teams competed at the Dempsey-Cronin Memorial Invitational at Santa Clara University from Nov. 18 to 20, the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Irvington Debate competed against 200 of the best Parliamentary Debate teams in the nation, after which they became fifth overall in National Parliamentary Rankings and the most successful student-run Parliamentary Debate team in the nation.

“Both debate and speech have been doing amazing considering the fact that Irvington is one of the only schools that is self-run and doesn’t have a coach,” said sophomore Isha Sanghvi, Secretary for Debate and Vice President for Speech. “And this year is arguably our most successful year to date, and that’s amazing considering how big the field is.”

In the Speech competitions at the tournament six  Irvington speech participants broke, meaning that they made it to the elimination rounds. Notably, sophomore Mehaa Mekala placed first in Open Dramatic Interpretation.

“I’ve had this piece since my last tournament at James Logan, so I had the memorization and blocking done, but I didn’t have to flow of energy down,” Mekala said. “A common misconceptions is that the best DIs are the ones where you cry the most or talk the most, but the best DIs tell a story. It has ups, downs, and parts where you stay relaxed. I think the hardest part for me was discovering when these parts occurred and how to realistically show pain. I think that’s what put me over the top, how relatable the emotions in my piece were and making the judges actually feel something.”

In preparation for the competition, the club met in separate weekly sessions. Speech had weekly sessions of one-on-one practice with officers to edit speeches and performances. Debate had practice debates, officer lectures, and briefings on certain debate topics.

Senior Rishabh Meswani, Debate Club President, said that the officers worked closely with the club members.

“This year, we implemented a mentorship team system, in which each officer is assigned to a group of approximately 10 novice kids,” he said. “This way, we can work with the students more personally, and I think that’s made a huge difference.”

For the competition, the Debate team only participated in Parliamentary debates, with two people debating a topic with 20 minutes of prep, and Lincoln-Douglas debates, with one person debating a topic received weeks or months in advance.

Speech competed in six events, including Dramatic Interpretation and Original Oratory.

Parents, former competitors, coaches, and college students served as judges for the students.

Speech is currently preparing for Golden Gate Speech Association’s second individual events tournament of the year at Sonoma Valley High School on Saturday, Dec. 3. while Debate Club is hosting its own tournament, Vikings Invitational, on Dec. 17.