Panther Press

  • New Semester Begins 1/25

  • Finals on 1/22 and 1/23

A Great Season for Speech and Debate

Lena Lofgren, '19, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






For members of the Strath Haven Speech and Debate Team, 2017 has been one of the most successful years to
date. Sixty-seven students have competed at 19 tournaments so far this school year in a huge variety of events, ranging from performing humorous or dramatic monologues to debating topics such as firearm background checks and nuclear weapons with a partner. The team competes on two circuits, the Philadelphia Catholic Forensic League and the national circuit, which offer local tournaments in the Philly area as well as larger invitationals requiring overnight travel. However, while each tournament is a fantastic opportunity to gain experience (and trophies!), the ultimate goal of most members is to qualify for one of three major national tournaments, NCFL Nationals, NSDA Nationals, and the Tournament of Champions. NCFL Nationals (held by the National Catholic Forensic
League) happen each year over Memorial Day weekend, with past destinations including Sacramento and Chicago.

This year, qualifiers will compete in Washington, D.C., first having to place in the top 6 in their event at the PCFL qualifier in March. NSDA Nationals (held by the National Speech and Debate Association) are even more difficult to qualify for, with students needing to place in the top 2 of their event in the entire region of Southeastern Pennsylvania. In the past two years, Strath Haven students have competed in Birmingham and Salt Lake City, with opportunities to explore Atlanta and Las Vegas as well. This year, the one-week affair will be taking place in Fort Lauderdale. Past qualifiers on the team are Jack Swartzentruber, Russell Legate-Yang, Andrew Spangler, and Lena Lofgren.

Finally, perhaps the most prestigious speech and debate tournament in the country and the eventual goal of nearly
every Strath Haven Speech and Debate member is the Tournament of Champions, held each Spring in Lexington at the University of Kentucky. In order to qualify, competitors much attain two bids in debate events or one in speech events, with bids being given to those reaching elimination rounds at certain tournaments. So far, only 5 students have ever qualified in the team’s history, and only 7 students have ever received bids. Last year saw the team’s first ever qualifications in debate events, with then-juniors Jack Swartzentruber and Russell Legate-Yang qualifying in Public Forum Debate with three bids, and then sophomore Lena Lofgren qualifying in Congressional Debate with five bids. This year, those same individuals have qualified again, with Seniors Jack and Russell having received their two bids in Public Forum at the NYC Invitational and the Villiger Tournament at Saint Joseph’s University. In addition, Junior Lena Lofgren earned a bid in Congressional Debate at the Yale Invitational, but secured her qualification to the Tournament of Champions in Origi- nal Oratory at the George Mason Patriot Games Classic.

Other highlights of the school year include Jack and Russell’s historic championships of both the Big Apple Round Robin in October and the Villiger Invitational, and Strath Haven earning 7th place in team sweepstakes at Villiger. In addition, the team earned 1st place sweepstakes at the Dallastown Wildcat Invitational, the first away tournament for freshmen, where sophomores Jenny Hu, Brendan Doherty, and Lillian Liu made semifinals of their respective events, freshman Madison Lin placed 4th in Declamation, sophomore Tianyi Wang placed 3rd, junior Lynnea Zhang placed 3rd in Congress, sophomore Audrey Fox placed 2nd in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, and junior Lena Lofgren won both Impromptu Speaking and Original Oratory. All of these successes have contributed to making the Strath Haven Speech and Debate team ranked 5th in the state of Pennsylvania, so be sure to wish your friends on the team good luck as the season progresses and to stop by Mr. Kahn’s room to learn about how you can get involved and
take home some trophies of your own!

The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.
A Great Season for Speech and Debate