The California Middle School Speech and Debate Championship

The California middle school debate championship took place this past weekend on the campus of UC Berkeley. Attending the tournament were elite middle school debate teams from across the state, including the top teams from the Bay Area.

 Students had the choice to compete in one of two styles of debate, including Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum Debate. Topics differed in each event, making preparation a key to success. Many of the young competitors spent long hours, both inside and outside of class, preparing for the prestigious state event. The state tournament was the culmination of a year of hard work.

After two grueling weekend days the field of competitors was narrowed to the best of the best. The students who distinguished themselves through six preliminary rounds then competed in octofinals, quarterfinals, semifinals, and the ultimate pressure situation, a winner take all final round.  The Young Genius Program from the Bay Area dominated debate.  The team of Amber Lee and Sally Kim from Young Genius Academy were the first ever California State Champions in Public Forum Debate.  Young Genius had 9 of the top 16 teams in the event and 13 of the top 15 speakers ranked by individual scores.  The team of Kim and Lee won all 10 of their debates to emerge as the undisputed champions of California. 

 “The year-long preparation is part of an important process in developing public speaking and critical reasoning skills in young minds,” commented Young Genius debate coach Don Heinsohn, who coached a state champion high school squad in years past.  “The awards, the recognition, these things are great, but the competition, that’s what brings out the best in these kids. All of them.”

Most students will now graduate to the competitive field of high school debate, where the Bay Area continues to produce some of the best competitors in the nation.


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