Debate teams qualify to state tourney

From left to right: Sophomores Andrew Shen and Matthew Hamilton and juniors Kush Dubey and Ajay Raj hold their trophies at Westmont High School after qualifying for the state tournament.

Written by Lawrence Chen 

Two Gunn debate teams qualified for the California High School Speech Association (CHSSA) State Tournament. This tournament will be held at Vista Murrieta High School from April 17 through 19. Gunn took two of the eight available spots for policy debate. This is the second year in a row in which Gunn has qualified students to the state tournament.

The two policy debate teams—juniors Kush Dubey and Ajay Raj and sophomores Andrew Shen and Matthew Hamilton—won their spots at the Coast Forensic League (CFL) Parliamentary State Qualifiers at Westmont High School on March 7 and 8.

Each team competed against individual teams from Bellarmine College Preparatory, Leland High School and Archbishop Mitty High School. Both of Gunn’s partnerships qualified for the elimination round with three wins and two losses, and beat teams from Archbishop Mitty and Leland in the final round.

Raj believes this achievement is especially important to Gunn as the team lacks a coach as well as many of the resources competing schools have. “We don’t have a coach or debate teacher of any sort like every other school in our league does, so all of the work put into each debate round comes from us students,” he said. “It’s incredibly gratifying to know that we are just as capable of arguing and researching as well as other schools despite lacking all of the resources they have.”

According to Shen, the policy debate topic is that the United States federal government should substantially increase its non-military development and/or exploration of the Earth’s oceans.

Raj has high hopes for the state tournament, in which Gunn will compete against schools from both inside and outside of the CFL. “Throughout this month the team will put in more work than we’ve ever before to prepare for states,” he said. “We really want to do well at this tournament for both ourselves and our school.”

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