Two Indian American students, Rohit Jhawar of the Sacramento, Calif.-based Kennedy High School, and Roopa Irakam of New Jersey’s Watchung Hills Regional High School, are among 12 student members of the National Speech and Debate Association who have been selected to represent the prestigious 2019-2020 USA Debate Team after completing a rigorous application process.
The USA Debate Team competes against other countries throughout the year, culminating in the World Schools Debating Championships next July. For the past three years, the United States team has finished in the top 6 at the International Championship tournament.
“Our USA Debate Team showcases the best and brightest high school students in our country who represent our honorary at the highest level,” said J. Scott Wunn, executive director of the National Speech and Debate Association. “The 2019-2020 team features some absolutely phenomenal speech and debate competitors. I’m certain they’ll continue the incredible achievements of this team.”
In addition, 15 students, including Indian American Vinayak Menon of Lambert High School in Georgia, have been selected to the USA Debate Development Team. This group of students will train and practice with USA Debate coaches and alumni to learn more about World Schools Debate.
Since 2013, the National Speech and Debate Association has assumed responsibility for the USA Debate Team, choosing the best debaters in the country to represent the U.S. in international competition.
The mission of USA Debate is to “join the global promotion of free and civil discourse, foster international cooperation and education, as well as demonstrate competitive excellence and national pride.”
In July, Jhawar, who was coached by Quest Sandel, was also declared a winner of the ‘Congressional Debate (Senate)’ category at the 2019 National Speech and Debate Tournament held in Dallas, Texas.
Thirty-one high school students across 11 states were crowned 2019 champions, winning more than $100,000 in scholarships.
Another Indian American student, Sandeep Shankar, and Daniel Cigale of Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, Sudbury, Massachusetts, were adjudged the winners of the ‘Public Forum Debate’ category.
In the same competition, Akshatha Narasimhan, an Indian American student from Las Vegas’ Nevada’s Coral Academy of Science Las Vegas, won the ‘Brother René Sterner Commentary’ round.
On Sept. 3, the National Speech and Debate Association also announced the 2018-2019 All American Award winners, who included Sahaj Singh of Carroll High School in Southlake, Texas, and Ishan Bhatt of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, Ridgeland, Mississippi.
From almost 200,000 student members of the NSDA Honor Society, these 25 students earned the most points. Points in the Honor Society are earned through a combination of competition and service. In order to win the All American Award, students must also have competed at the National Speech and Debate Tournament at least once.