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LSE Debate Team Reaches Nationals!

Lotus' Speech & Debate team has accomplished amazing feats, and they plan to do the same at the NSDA National Qualifying Tournament

February 28, 2023

Lotus’ Speech & Debate team has accomplished a lot this year, bringing pride to our school amid their successes. Now, as our the team preps for the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) National Qualifying Tournament, tune in to see what the participants and coaches have to share.

A few words from the coaches

Ms. Martin, the head coach, gives us a brief description of the tournament. She explains, “The NSDA National Qualifying tournament hosts a variety of both speech and debate events recognized by the NSDA, which is the National Speech and Debate Association, our national governing body…Students must qualify to be eligible to compete, and must have earned at least one Merit degree, meaning that they have accrued at least 37 points in competition over the course of the year. We have 16 students with Merit, Honor, or Excellence distinction, so we may submit six entries into the competition. Students who place in this competition will be invited to participate at the National tournament in Phoenix, Arizona, this June.”

 Here is the list of the participants and their respective events:

  • Sumeya Abdullahi/Co-captain: Domestic Extemporaneous & Original Oratory
  • Hafeezat Ghaffar/Co-captian: International Extemporaneous & Original Oratory
  • Handakina Tsegaye/Captain: International Extemporaneous & Original Oratory
  • Eden Yimam: International Extemporaneous 
  • Razleen Bassra: Original Oratory & Public Forum Debate
  • Ghaya Merghani: Public Forum Debate
  • Newal Nasir/Secretary: Policy Debate
  • Esra Hima/Captain: Policy Debate
Captain Handakina Tsegaya writing agenda for the meeting

Ms. Matthews, the coach, lets us know that the NSDA National Qualifying Tournament will be between March 3-4, 2023 at Littleton High school. She also describes how she is helping members prepare for the tournament, “I am helping students prepare by helping to edit speeches for students who are participating in original oratory. For coaches, providing the space and time for students to work on their craft is one of the best ways to help students prepare.”

Ms. Matthews also explains how she feels about the approaching tournament, “I am not sure if this is the first time LSE speech and debate will go to the qualifiers, but this is an exciting occasion nonetheless. The highest you can go in debate is to go to nationals.

I think that this is a great opportunity for all the students to know what it’s like to compete with students who are also very serious and passionate about the same events.” 

This event will be the first time in Lotus history where the speech and debate team will be attending a National Qualifying tournament. Ms. Martin exclaims, “This is the most robust team of eligible competitors we have ever had!”

The Lotus Speech & Debate team has now achieved over 2,000 points placing them Premier Distinction. For reference, the team was only formally established two years ago and is competing against large schools that have been functioning for decades! 

Some of the schools the team will be competing against include Cherry Creek High School, Eaglecrest, Smoky Hill, Littleton High School, Denver South, Grandview, Kent Denver, and a collection of 40 other schools across the state.

Ms. Martin proudly reflects upon the team’s accomplishments saying, “This group is enthusiastic, well-prepared, intelligent, and flexible. They are committed and brilliant public speakers, and I am confident and excited that they will do very well.”

Participants go into detail on their selective events

Sumeya Abdullahi – “Original Oratory is a memorized 10-minute speech that should persuade the audience and is usually about topics that the competitors are very passionate about. I have my OO speech from our previous State Tournament, but for National Extemp I will be running drills with practice questions with people on the team who have done this event (Hafeezat and Eden WHO BOTH PLACED AT STATE!), giving myself 30-min to research and give a speech.”

Handakina Tsegaye – “I will compete in original oratory and international extemporaneous speaking. I am extremely excited for the qualifiers, as it is my first national qualifiers, I am looking forward to composing my speeches and also practicing my impromptu speaking skills with international extemporaneous speaking.” 

Hafeezat Ghaffar – “This year, I decided to explore some events that I was interested in and one of those events was Extemporaneous Speaking. This was the same event I participated in last month’s State Competition and will compete in for National Qualifiers. Extemporaneous Speaking, or Extemp, is truly a fascinating experience because you will always leave a round with more insight and information than before.”

She further emphasizes the concepts of the events saying, “In Extemp, you are called to a table where you are presented with three questions and choose one question from those three. You are then given 30 minutes to write and prepare a speech answering the question. When you are called into the room by the judges, you have to give your speech extemporaneously, without any of the words or speech you prepared… I will also be double entered in the Original Oratory, in which I deliver a speech, also completely from memory.”

Eden Yimam – “At the National Qualifiers, I will be competing in international extemporaneous speaking. Essentially, you are sent into a room to await the drawing of your topic. You get to choose one of three prompts per round as the topics themselves range from various international political issues as each round focuses on a different continent. In the prep room, you have 30 minutes to research and then you are sent to the judging panel where you are given 7 minutes to present your speech.”

Razleen Bassra – “I will be competing in Public Forum with Ghaya, and I will also be doing Original Oratory. As of the moment, I have my Original Oratory speech ready. I am prepping by committing this speech to memory. As for Public Forum, I have been cooperating with Ghaya as well as Ms, Matthews by doing research and such.”

Freshman Ryan Okolie practicing a speech

Participants reflect on their emotions ahead of the tournament.

Hafeezat Ghaffar – “To be honest, the stress and vigor of National Qualifiers hasn’t reached me yet; I don’t think I’ve fully grasped that I’ll be competing at such a large competition. Right now, I still feel somewhat casual about it. I do have a plan for how I plan to prepare though. Our Speech and Debate Team has achieved so much from the beginning of our season last year to now. National Qualifiers represent a significant step towards growing our presence as a team. Not only for our team, I am excited to observe the progress other teams have made. That’s the beauty of Speech and Debate.”

Sumeya Abdullahi – “I am very excited to see how this tournament will go since it is the best one of the year, and hopefully one of us will qualify to go to Nationals!”

Handakina Tsegaye – “I am extremely excited for the national qualifiers. The reason why I’m excited is because I am competing in a national qualifier for the first time. I’m representing Lotus School for Excellence, and it’s the first time that Lotus has qualified for national qualifiers. After completing states, which was also another milestone, we are extremely elated to have qualified for the national qualifiers.”

Eden Yimam – “I am excited to compete since this is a huge accomplishment for the Lotus Speech and Debate team. Seeing how far we’ve progressed as a team is so wonderful seeing how we now are in the ranks to place in the National Competition in Arizona.” 

Razleen Bassra – “ I am excited! However, I am also a little nervous as it is my first time doing OO and PF.”

Stay tuned to see how our Speech and Debate team does on the NSDA National Qualifying Tournament!!!!

Update! For a photo gallery check out this article

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    Ms. MartinMar 23, 2023 at 9:15 am

    I love this article. I am so proud of all of you for the hard work you did in preparation for Nat. Quals, and your inimitable enthusiasm and skill that you demonstrated there.