Speech and Debate Comes Out on Top at Columbia

Photo by Felisa Honeyman

By Jacqueline Lee
Managing Editor of News

Newton South Speech and Debate is one of the most successful teams in Massachusetts. Many members of the team are nationally ranked and have received countless awards. The team, however, has never gotten first place at the Columbia University Tournament, a national tournament, but this past weekend, they did just that.

Newton South, as a team, won the entire tournament, a win that was described as “historic” by senior Debate Captain Malcolm Davis. He and fellow senior Captain Rebecca Shaar were awarded second place in the Public Forum Debate division and watched all five of their teams break to elimination rounds.

After this big victory, Davis said that the debate team is “going to get a lot of confidence going forward into this season, which is going to be especially useful as [they] move into national qualifiers and the Harvard tournament.” Davis predicts that they “are just sorta gonna pick up steam and be a powerhouse on the national circuit.”

Like Davis, Shaar saw this win as a “much needed boost for Newton South” since they “hadn’t been getting first place like [they] used to in previous years.” Shaar also saw the results of the tournament as a reward and justification for all the hard work the team has put in. However, Shaar does not think that this win will change the way the debate team practices since what they were doing worked.

Speech, alongside debate, also prospered and experienced immense success at this year’s Columbia tournament, with sixteen entries breaking to the next round. Senior Speech Captain Rhea Dudani ranked fourth in Original Oratory and placed eighth alongside senior Lily Borak in Duo Interpretation.

For Dudani, “this was the first time [she has] broken nationally that far, and so it was a pretty good feeling.” Dudani also notes that this victory was especially meaningful considering the fact that Stuyvesant, an elite exam school for academically gifted students in New York City, usually wins the tournament, and credits South’s success to the pure hardwork and dedication of everyone on the team.

According to Dudani, the team “hasn’t been doing as well as when [she] was a freshman, but now, [she is] seeing the team pick up that momentum again and [she] definitely thinks that it is going to motivate [them] to work harder and keep trying to get the team back to where it was.”

Junior speech team member Juliet Cable placed fifth in Original Oratory and mentions that besides the competition aspect, “it was really nice to be able to travel with friends and spend the weekend with a group of friends who are really great because the team feels like a family a lot of the time.”

Cable does agree with the others, however, that winning was great because especially since many team members were worried about the loss of so many motivated and dedicated seniors over the past few years.

“it is awesome to say that this is the team that won Columbia and that is such a special thing to be a part of”

Sophomore Extemper Eu Ro Wang sums up the whole experience of being at the Columbia Tournament by saying “it was good to see how much progress Newton South has made by winning a national tournament as a school and it made me feel very proud.”

A previous version of this article stated that Stuyvesant High School was a private school; it has been corrected.


  1. Congratulations to the South team but Stuyvesant is not a private school but he public school.

    A Stuy Alumni,

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