Schaumburg High School Debate Team Earns State Championship Title

Schaumburg High School state debate students pose with their state trophies and medals. (Left) Sophomores Jessica D’Souza and Raza Haque (and right) junior Nathaniel Leonhardt.

Schaumburg High School state debate students pose with their state trophies and medals. (Left) Sophomores Jessica D’Souza and Raza Haque (and right) junior Nathaniel Leonhardt.

The Schaumburg High School Debate Team has captured the Illinois High School Association State Debate Title for the second time in the club’s history. The whole team had great success while they competed in the IHSA Annual State Debate Tournament at the end of March at the University of Illinois – Springfield.

Sophomores Jessica D’Souza and Raza Haque led the team to seize the state championship in Public Forum Debate (also known as Current Event Debate or Crossfire Debate). The topic for this debate was “Resolved: Single-gender classrooms would improve the quality of education in American public schools.”  All competitors prepared for both sides of the argument, which meant they must debate both sides (pro and con) of the topic.

In Lincoln-Douglas Debate (or Philosophical Value Debate), junior Nathaniel Leonhardt won second place in the entire state after making it to semi-finals with an undefeated record – winning 18 debate ballots in a row, each debate lasting 45 minutes, over a 48 hour time period.  His speaking record was also the highest in the entire tournament, and he missed only 10.5 points out of a possible 300 points for a total of 289.5. Nathaniel was also named Captain of the All-State Debate Team.

Additionally, junior Melissa Tran authored the Congressional topic that was chosen as the 2014 IHSA State Debate Best Legislation – this medal marks the first time in history this award has been given.

Schaumburg advanced 15 out of 22 students into the elimination rounds after all preliminary debates ended.  Teams who qualify for the elimination rounds must have high records (winning the argument in the debate) and high speaker points (how they deliver their arguments).  Many teams could be tied in regard to their record, so the students with higher speaker points advance into the elimination rounds.

imageStudents with the highest speaker points earned a spot on the All-State Debate Team. Senior Meagan-Faye Allen won 10th Place; senior Brendan Du won 9th Place; senior Healy Gier won 8th Place; sophomore Jessica D’Souza won 5th Place; and, junior Nathaniel Leonhardt won 1st Place.  Schaumburg High School emerged as the victor in the entire tournament by having team members remaining after eliminating everyone else through octas, quarters, semis, and the final round.

In addition to the All-State Debate Team members, the following students broke into the elimination rounds:  Senior Jacob Hacm , junior Sarah Bier, junior Kimberly Jimenez, junior Shraddha Patel, junior Melissa Tran, junior Ameel Sheth, sophomore Srini Cherukuri, freshman Megan Schneidau, and freshman Kshitij Vashi.

The Schaumburg Debate Team is directed by Darrell Robin (Schaumburg HS English Teacher).  He started coaching this team nine years ago with only five students.  Since then, the team has swelled to over 80 debaters, and many students now enroll to take electives in Speech and argumentation.  The coaching staff also includes Carl Schwartz (a former State Champion from Elk Grove HS and member of the Schaumburg HS Special Education Department), Elisa Galvan (a former Schaumburg HS Student and Debater – and a two-time National Debate Champion at the college level), Mick Sellergren, Esq. (former Barrington HS Student and Debater – and Attorney-at-Law), and Nancy Israel (Dundee-Crown HS English Teacher).