MSD Speech and Debate competes at Harvard


MSD students gather for a team photo at Harvard University. Photo courtesy of MSD Speech and Debate

Charlie Goodman

MSD students gather for a team photo at Harvard University. Photo courtesy of MSD Speech and Debate

On Friday, Feb 13. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School took a delegation of over 30 students to Cambridge, Mass. to compete in the 46th Annual Harvard National Forensics Tournament.

This tournament oversees the top debaters from the nation to compete against one another.

In Congress, Policy, Lincoln-Douglas, Speaking events and more, MSD students competed with national and international candidates at Harvard.

Though many of the students went just to participate, have fun and gain experience, some went to bring home trophies.

One student from Stoneman Douglas even brought home a Tournament of Champions bid. This sought after recognition goes to winners who are eligible to compete at the National Championships of High School Forensics in April at the University of Kentucky.

Senior Bilal Andha was the bid-winner who qualified for the T.O.C. for the Congressional Debate category.

He accomplished this by not only seeding high enough to advance multiple rounds of debate, but by making it to the final round.

Andha finished 18th out of more than 500 competitors and as a result received a bid necessary to qualify for nationals at the end of the year in Lexington.

“It was a huge dream of mine to not only compete here at Harvard but win, too. I feel as if all of my hard work has come to a righteous conclusion,” Andha said.

This also was the last time for many other seniors to compete at Harvard.

“I’ve been doing debate for a few years and I have to say this one of the most fun and most impressive tournaments I have ever taken part in. Even though I might not have placed, I’m so glad I got to experience this weekend,” senior Jerrod Rabenbauer said.

With the school year drawing to a close in just a few months, these debate veterans were looking to close out their high school journeys with fun and success and they say this has been accomplished.

This tournament as well served as a good lead in for younger debaters with an eye for the future.

“I wish I had gotten to participate in this event as an underclassman, it’s truly incredible here. I think this tournament will lay the foundation for the future of MSD Speech and Debate and give the younger kids an idea of the mentality and drive we have in our program,” senior Alex Azar said.

Team members assure that competing at Harvard is surely one way to boost member intrigue and hunger for the future.

Even then in between, sophomores and juniors, all team members shared that they really gained a lot from this weekend as they got to see what is to come and witness their upperclassmen lead.

“I really strive to be the best speaker, team member and leader I can be and going up to Harvard to watch the upperclassmen handle themselves and compete was great. I definitely hope to be one of those leaders some day,” sophomore Elaine Chen said.

With that, MSD debate students enjoyed their trip up to Harvard and will look to continue their success for the rest of the year, ultimately building towards Lexington and the Tournament of Champions.