Speech and debate students earn awards at TFA state championship

April 3, 2017

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Cypress Woods High School senior Lucas Clarke was named the TFA State Champion for best speaking in Lincoln-Douglas Debate out of the nearly 200 students in the event, earning a $500 college scholarship.

April 3, 2017—Students from seven CFISD high schools earned honors at the Texas Forensic Association (TFA) State Championship for speech and debate, including a first-place finish by Cypress Woods High School and a fifth-place finish by Cypress Springs High School.

More than 220 Texas private and public schools of all sizes, from 1A to 6A, were represented at this tournament, held in March in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

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Cypress Springs High School students represent the campus at the TFA State Championship in March. Pictured, clockwise from top left, are Mustafa Malik, Jarron Vergin, Coach Bruce Sullivan, Cecilia Vera and Daniela Lopez. Vergin is displaying his finalist award for placing fifth in Humorous Interpretation. 

Students participated in preliminary rounds of competition in a variety of debate, public speaking and oral interpretation events in front of judges who rated their performances. Those with the most successful results moved forward to elimination, advancing to be among the best of the best in Texas. 

Cypress Woods senior Lucas Clarke was named the 2017 state champion speaker in Lincoln-Douglas Debate out of the nearly 200 students in his event. He earned a $500 college scholarship for this accomplishment, which was based on evaluations of his presentation style against opponents across multiple rounds of competition. Lincoln-Douglas debaters were assigned to research arguments related to government housing initiatives and homelessness.

“Debate is the land of endless possibilities where, if you put in the work and persevere, anything is possible,” Clarke said about his victory.  “I struggled my junior year to find my place in debate.  With the support of my family, teachers, and coach, I was able to achieve my goals and be considered among the best.”

Cypress Springs junior Jarron Vergin placed fifth as a finalist in Humorous Interpretation for his witty rendition of Frog Prince Continued, a story that explores what happens next to a fairy tale couple once they’ve reached happily ever after.  In this event, students perform a memorized piece of literature they’ve selected for its mood and message. Nearly 100 students competed in this category, and Vergin was the only one from the greater Houston region to make the finals. 

“TFA gave me a chance to really express myself.  I got to compete against a lot of great opponents and see how far my abilities can take me,” Vergin said. “Being able to perform presents my own humorous nature, as well as my serious ability to commit to an audience.”

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Cypress Lakes High School duet acting partners Jourdyn Jones, left, and Shelanie Langford were quarterfinalists at the TFA State Championship last month.

Students earned qualification to the state tournament by accumulating points for their successes at local meets from September through February. Due to its rigorous qualification process, the Texas state championship is recognized as one of the most difficult in the country for speech and debate, said Stacy Thomas, CFISD humanities curriculum coach. CFISD had nearly 70 students from ten high schools compete at the state level.

Below are CFISD’s further accomplishments:

Lincoln Douglas Debate

Students argue one-on-one on an assigned topic of social and ethical significance. They can earn awards both for the quality of their public speaking and for their win-loss records, which determine how far they advance in the competition based on strength of argumentation and logical strategy. Out of a pool of nearly 200, CFISD had three students advance to the top 16 bracket:

  • Tess Welch, Cy-Fair; and
  • Lucas Clarke and Chakra Jonnalagadda, Cypress Woods.

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Langham Creek High School students (from left) Vivian Gutierrez, Vernesha Hazel and Lyndsie Daniels represent their campus at the TFA State Championship.

Congressional Debate

Students participate in a mock legislative session over a variety of current public policy issues. 

  • Daniel Lehmann, Cypress Creek – semifinalist (House of Representatives);
  • Ian Cook, Cypress Creek – semifinalist (Senate); and
  • Collin Goemmer, Cypress Creek – Outstanding Presiding Officer award for chamber leadership in the House.

Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking

Students are assigned topics on U.S. affairs at the competition site and given 30 minutes to prepare a seven-minute persuasive speech based on their current events knowledge:

  • Evan Ortiz, Cy-Fair – semifinalist.

Duet Acting

Students perform with partners a memorized 12-minute selection from literature of their choice:

  • Brandon Brown and Deric Childress, Cypress Creek – semifinalists; and
  • Shelanie Langford and Jourdyn Jones, Cypress Lakes – quarterfinalists.

Prose Interpretation

Students present a 7-minute reading of literature they have chosen appropriate for the genre:

  • Lyndsie Daniels, Langham Creek – quarterfinalist.

Impromptu Speaking

Students are assigned topics at the competition site on an open array of subjects, often quotations or proverbs, and are given one minute to prepare a five-minute speech:

  • Derrick Ransom, Cypress Falls – quarterfinalist.

These students are taught by John Augillard at Cypress Woods, Bruce Sullivan at Cypress Springs, Perry Beard at Cy-Fair, Dustin Kay at Cypress Creek, Hannah McCord at Cypress Lakes, Kristi Goemmer at Langham Creek and Debbie Waddell at Cypress Falls.

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