Six members of the Burbank High School Speech & Debate team recently competed in the National Speech and Debate Association’s National Championship Tournament. These students qualified to represent their competitive district at the National Tournament, and half of them competed in elimination rounds.
Delia Sawatzki (’25) competed in Extemporaneous Commentary, where she was given a range of social commentary topics 20 minutes before her round and had to give a 5-minute speech with cited sources and analysis. She competed in the Double Octofinals round at Nationals, placing her in the top 100 competitors in this event in the country.
Edna Yeghnanyan (’25) competed in Congressional Debate – House, where students act as a mock Congress and debate legislation covering domestic and foreign policies. This was Edna’s second tournament competing in this event, and she advanced to the Quarterfinals, placing her in the top 120 competitors in this event in the country.
Perhaps the biggest news of this week is that Mihika Chechi (’23) competed in World Schools Debate on a team of 5 students from different schools in their competitive district. Mihika and her teammates won the national championship in World Schools Debate, setting several new records. Their final round margin is both the largest spread and highest ballot win in the event’s history; they have the lowest ballot loss record; they are the first ever two-time and back-to-back national champions; and they are only the fourth ever back-to-back debate national champions in the National Speech and Debate Association’s 98-year history.
Mihika becomes Burbank High School’s second speech and debate national champion, following Sungjoo Yoon’s championship last year. It’s incredible for any program to win a national championship, let alone two consecutive years. The BHS admin and staff are grateful for their continued support.
The National Speech and Debate Association’s National Championship Tournament is the largest academic competition in the world. Every summer, more than 6,000 middle and high school students travel to compete in this prestigious event. After months of preparation, rigorous qualifying tournaments, and five days of national competition, the best of the best are crowned champions in front of a live audience of thousands and tens of thousands more streaming the events online.
The 2023 National Tournament was held from June 11-16 in Phoenix/Mesa, Arizona. The tournament featured a variety of events, including Extemporaneous Commentary, Congressional Debate – House, and World Schools Debate.