Schaumburg High School Debate Team Wins IHSA State Debate Championship

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The SHS Debate team: Joey Erpito (jr.), Giselle Soares (fr.), Luke Kim (jr.), Angela Lii (sr.), Sandy Saikumar (so.), Srini Cherukuri (sr.), Karolina Skarzynska (sr.), Raphael Portillo (fr.), Binti Kohli (fr.), Sanjana Ade (fr.).

The SHS Debate team: Joey Erpito (jr.), Giselle Soares (fr.), Luke Kim (jr.), Angela Lii (sr.), Sandy Saikumar (so.), Srini Cherukuri (sr.), Karolina Skarzynska (sr.), Raphael Portillo (fr.), Binti Kohli (fr.), Sanjana Ade (fr.).

Schaumburg High School Debate Team students are celebrating a successful season and earning another state championship title.

The 2016 IHSA Debate State Congressional champions defended their state title and competed against over 150 competitors from 20 different schools at the beginning of the tournament. After an elimination break, the competition was narrowed to 66 competitors. Only 16 students advanced to the final round and Schaumburg students were three of those finalists.

Last year, Schaumburg set a record as the only high school in Illinois to win the IHSA Debate State Championship in the three divisions of Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Public Forum Debate, and Congressional Debate.

Schaumburg started with 10 qualifiers in Congressional Debate including freshmen Raphael Portillo (semifinalist), Sanjana Ade, Binti Kohli, and Giselle Soares, sophomore Sandy Saikumar, juniors Luke Kim (semifinalist), Joseph Erpito, and seniors Srini Cherukuri, Karolina Skarzynska, and Angela Lii.

Senior Srini Cherukuri holds the first place trophy up outside of Schaumburg High School.

Senior Srini Cherukuri holds the first place trophy up outside of Schaumburg High School.

In finals, the lowest score wins. Srini Cherukuri (senior) earned a near-perfect score of a 6 in finals, which raised him to first place in argumentation and clinched the State Championship for Schaumburg. Senior Karolina Skarzynska won first place for Speaking based on raw speech scores and sophomore Sandy Saikumar earned third place. Due to her scores leading up to finals, Skarzynska won the title of Captain of the IHSA All-State Debate Team for Congressional Debate. She was also recently voted to represent Northern Illinois over every Speech and Debate student in the area for the National Speech and Debate Association as Student of the Year for her leadership and teamwork.

In addition to all of their success in Congressional Debate, the team also had elimination and speaking medalists for Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum Debate in sophomores Jake Kaminski and Bhavi Vashi, juniors Hannah Hyman, Kshitij Vashi, and Sarah Liu, and seniors Craig Soares and Cole Miller. Sarah Liu had the honor of winning Captain of the All-State Debate Team for Lincoln-Douglas Debate giving Schaumburg two of the four possible Captain titles for IHSA Debate.

The team is coached by Darrell Robin with the assistance of Schaumburg High School SPED Department’s Caitlin Johnson; Stefanie Pierropoulos of the Schaumburg High School ESL Department; Mick Sellergren, Attorney-at-Law and former Barrington High School student of Robin from when he used to teach there; Schaumburg High School alumnae and former debaters and captains Elisa Galvan (’11) and Safia Kazi (’10); and Assistant Debate Coach Carl Schwartz of the Schaumburg High School SPED Department.

The team will be recognized by the Board of Education at a future meeting.