Great Hearts Students Win Big at Speech and Debate Competition

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Great Hearts Academies was well-represented at the 2019 National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) Championship Tournament in Dallas, Texas this past June. The event took place June 16 through the 21. In order to compete at the National tournament, competitors go through an intensive qualification process and represent the top 2% of speech and debate competitors across the country.

Congratulations to these Great Hearts students for their performance at the National tournament:

– Thomas Chung (Scottsdale Prep, class of 2020) placed 3rd in the country in Congressional Debate (House). Thomas was also elected the Presiding Officer by the chamber of national finalists. Thomas is among a small handful of students in the country that have auto-qualified for next year’s NSDA National Tournament in Albuquerque, NM.

– Alison Cohen (Chandler Prep, class of 2019) made it to the Congressional Debate (House) finals for the second year in a row, placing 6th this year after placing 7th last year. By the end of the tournament, Chung and Cohen had debated with other House finalists for nearly 30 hours across dozens of pieces of legislation.

– Leila Khan (Scottsdale Prep, class of 2020) placed in the top 80 competitors in Congressional Debate (House) out of 473 competitors. Khan also placed in the top 150 entries of Impromptu speaking (out of a field of 520).

– Reeti Patel (Scottsdale Prep, class of 2020) advanced to Round 7 in Extemporaneous Debate (the top 113 competitors out of 870 entries).

Cohen was coached by Mr. Mica Tacderan. Scottsdale Prep students were coached by Mr. Travis Clement, who was recognized with two awards from the NSDA at this tournament (earning both his 1st Coaching Diamond Award and the Service Key Award) for his leadership, dedication, and service to his school and the Speech & Debate community over the last six years.

Great Hearts is a nonprofit network of tuition-free public charter schools dedicated to improving education nationwide through classical preparatory K-12 academies. More information can be found at 

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