Arguably the Best

The Speech and Debate Team had its Novice tournament late last month at Pine-Richland, and the results were indisputably promising.


Olivia Shubak

After school on the third floor of NASH, Arnav Patel and Shuban Tiwari practice their cases before members of the Lincoln-Douglas event.

Olivia Shubak, Staff Writer

On October 29th, the North Allegheny Speech and Debate Team attended the Pine-Richland Novice Tournament. NA students represented strongly in the competition, with five students placing in the top six of their event rankings.

Novice tournaments are beneficial because they are strictly for members with minimal experience. The purpose is to ease new members into their new events—from dramatic interpretation and original oratory to public forum and Lincoln-Douglas debate—and guide them through the experience.

“I’m really proud of how well our students did, and it’s really cool to watch them grow and know that they are going to get so much better,” senior Khushi Pasrija, a student event leader and Publicity Director for the team, said.

The other event leaders on the team shared this sentiment. In fact, many upperclassmen attended the tournament as student judges and supported those participating. The tournament was quite time-consuming, as students were expected to be at school no later than 6:15 AM dressed in their best business attire.  The rounds continued into the afternoon, making for an exciting but long day for participants and judges alike.

Five students from NA placed in their event at the tournament, with freshman Vamshi Singari placing first in impromptu speech.

“It honestly was a surreal experience when they called out my name,” he said.  “I just ran up and I was super excited.”

Since the start of the school year, student event leaders have been rigorously preparing new members for their first tournament.

“I was shocked about how many good speakers there were in novice,”  said freshman Lauren Hwang soon after placing fifth in Original Oratory.

The competitive nature of the club highlights these students’ achievements.

“I felt nervous and stressed, but after each round, I felt a bit relaxed,” freshman Sai Ramadugu, who competed in extemporaneous speaking, said. “I was worried I would be last, but I got fifth place, so I felt glad.”

Another freshman, Aditi Vadlamuri, said, “During the novice tournament, I felt nervous, but after a couple of speeches, I felt better.”

Vadlamuri’s comments reflect the feelings of the majority of students participating in their first tournament, and her story had a happy ending as she ranked fourth in Congressional Debate.

“Overall, I thought novice was a great tournament to help understand the way your event works,” she said.

Some students, like freshman Alicia Gasana, approached the tournament head-on as a time to demonstrate their abilities.

“Not only being able to get the chance to compete on our team but also placing 6th was such an honor,” Gasana said. “The novice tournament for me was a time to better my skills and show my strengths.”

The tournament also provided opportunities to build relationships within the team.

“PR Novice was great,” sophomore Anna Murray said. “We created a team bond and would ask each other how it went after each round.” 

This is the first year that North Allegheny’s Speech and Debate team is being led by Coach Erin Wolf. She previously coached a team in Kansas.