January 4, 2021

Saline HS Debate Team Wins State Titles

In a year that many want to forget and move forward, the Saline Debate Team will fondly remember 2020 because they won state titles and many other awards. The Varsity High School Debate Team, of seniors Abby Berwick and Paige Haddas, took first place in the Michigan Interscholastic Forensic Association state finals. They debated the resolution that the United States should adopt a declaratory nuclear policy of no first use. Additionally, the Novice High School Congressional Debate Team, specifically first year Sarah Yousif, took first place in the state competition.

Regardless of hybrid or virtual classes, the tournaments were online this season, and the debate team won more than state titles; they won speaker trophies and tournaments, too. 

On top in Varsity Public Forum (PF) were Berwick and Haddas who, besides winning state finals, also won the PF West Bloomfield and Pappas debate tournaments and placed second in Holt.  Sophomores Reed Recchia and Andrew Strong were PF quarter finalists at Groves High School. 

The Novice PF team was also quite strong. Novice PF debaters Neil Sachdeva and Lizzy Sandru placed second in the Open PF tournament at Detroit Country Day and were finalists at the Pappas debate invitational. The dynamic pair of Eva Cueto and Lola O’Connor were PF semi finalists at West Bloomfield, co-champions in Holt, and quarter finalists at Groves High School. And first year students Collin Brophy and Michael Bryant were semi finalists at the Dexter Delite Tournament.

In Congressional Debate where competitors write bills and resolutions and debate them for passage, Saline had a greater presence than ever before. At the varsity level, Ryan Courtney won the Groves High School tournament and came in second at the Pappas and Dexter tournaments. Yousif also placed second in the Varsity Pappas tournament.

At the novice level, besides Yousif’s state tournament title, senior Sydney Dillon won the Pappas tournament and sophomore Andreanna Ulery placed second;  Yousif won the Dexter and Groves tournaments; Andreanna placed second in Dexter. 

There were high school tournaments proceeding the state finals that began in September and ended in December; the next two tournaments in February and March will qualify debaters in Public Forum and Congressional Debate for the National Speech and Debate Tournament in June in DesMoines, IA. Saline has qualified for Nationals for the last four years.

Debate in Saline comprises two styles, Public Forum and Congressional, and five teams: Saline Middle School, Public Forum; and Saline High School Novice Congressional and Novice Public Forum and Varsity Congressional and Varsity Public Forum. The Saline High School Debate teams are coached by teacher Shelly Venema and assisted by Linda Badri. The high school debate board is led by Paige Haddas, Ryan Courtney, and Angie Ling. The middle school is coached by former Saline debater, and University of Michigan student Mrinalini Iyer. 

The complete list of awards can be seen in the chart below - there are too many to list. Congratulations to all!