Senior School Hosts Virtual Speech and Debate Tournament

On Saturday, Jan. 16, the Shady Side Academy Senior School Speech and Debate Team hosted a virtual tournament with more than 180 competitors from 23 high schools, including schools in California and North Carolina. SSA fielded 16 student competitors, and four SSA parents helped with judging. Alumnus and past team member Giri Viswanathan '20 also judged for the event.

Pennsylvania High School Speech League Logo

SSA senior Jack Thornton and junior Anish Kusumanchi earned first place and freshmen Hari Viswanathan and Deven Nahata earned fifth place in Parliamentary Debate. Junior Crystal Ma earned third place in Prose Interpretation, and junior Riley Doyle earned sixth place in Poetry.

The SSA Speech and Debate Team has competed in eight Pennsylvania tournaments since Oct. 31. The local season ends in late March with qualifiers for state, national and world competitions. Sophomore Maya Leyzarovich qualified for the PHSSL State Tournament in Congress Super Session earlier this month. Sophomore Nichole Poltinnikov continues to compete in virtual tournaments across the U.S. and currently ranks ninth in Pennsylvania in Lincoln Douglas Debate.

Thornton and Kusumanchi recently teamed up with two students from Upper St. Clair to film a video for Pennsylvania speech and debate competitors, parent judges and coaches. The students explained how to prepare for a Parliamentary Debate, useful tactics and important aspects for judges to consider. They ended the video with a mock round of Parliamentary Debate against the USC team.

Speech and Debate Team members continue to grow in their speaking skills and their ability to research, form logical arguments and write speeches for both sides of a topic.

Congratulations to the students and to Speech and Debate coaches Mary Krauland and Jacki Weaver!

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