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Paly hosts Speech & Debate State Qualifiers

Gavin Lin/The Campanile

Paly hosted CHSSA Speech and Debate State Qualifiers from March 1 to March 3 for the first time.

Speech and Debate Program Director Kyle Hietala said he was excited for the qualifiers to be hosted at Paly.

“It’s really an honor for us to host,” Hietala said. “We have a really strong group of students competing this year.”

Sophomore and debater Motoko Iwata said Hietala worked hard to make the tournament happen.

“Kyle, who runs our program, works really hard whenever we have tournaments, and he’s been really active in helping manage tournaments,” Iwata said. “I’m really excited for us to be able to host.”

Jon Jovy Telebrico, the debate coach for Crystal Springs, and a member of the Parliamentary Debate Topic Committee, said Paly was an ideal location for holding State Qualifiers.

“(The debate) league is pretty scattered –– we have schools up the peninsula,” Telebrico said. “Palo Alto is a central location.”

Telebrico also said he was grateful to Paly for volunteering. 

“To have other schools in our league volunteering their space, their time, their volunteers — I think that’s really meaningful,” Telebrico said. “It adds weight to the work that’s being done here and the stakes of the tournament.”

Hietala said he is grateful for the volunteers who made the event possible.

“We have over 35 people volunteering this weekend, which is amazing,” Hietala said. “It’s a big team effort. I’m really grateful… that so many people are involved.”

Sophomore Aaron Shone, who volunteered at the event, said he wanted to give back to the debate community.

“I wanted to do something to give back to the team that has helped me so much and especially Kyle, who has done a lot,” Shone said. “Even when he was really busy, he was helping me with my case writing.”

This weekend’s State Qualifiers is the only path to moving on to the State Championship for many debaters in the area.

Owen Chun, a senior at Archbishop Mitty High School, said this might be his last debate tournament in high school.

“I’m a little nervous and a little excited,” Chun said. “I’m a senior so this might end up being the last tournament I go to if I don’t qualify. I’m looking forward to competing.”

Iwata said regardless of the results, the tournament was a good learning opportunity.

“Obviously, the goal is to qualify for states,” Iwata said. “Other than that, I think this is a really good learning opportunity to be able to debate with more people at a very competitive level.”

Though State Qualifiers is an important tournament, Telebrico said debate is more than just competition.

“My favorite thing about debate is that it empowers students in ways that are totally unexpected,” Telebrico said. “I’ve seen so many students come through this activity and take away so many tangible and meaningful aspects, both in terms of rhetoric, delivery or argumentation generation. It’s been really fantastic.”

Paly students Christopher Choi, Holden Lee, Anya Lee, Mihir Menon, Sophia Kim, Sarabeth Huang, Joseph Sun, Amily Zhang, Motoko Iwata, Xander Yap, Marcus Ling, Katie Wu and Sammi Wu all qualified to the CHSSA State Championship.

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Gavin Lin, Assistant Managing Editor
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