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ETHS Speech & Debate students find success through team effort

Mar 17, 2017  3:45pm CT

Evanston Township High School’s Speech and Debate Team continues to make strides in tournaments at the local, regional and national level.

ETHS qualified eight students for the National Speech and Debate Association championship tournament which will be held in June. NSDA district tournament results include:  

  • Lincoln-Douglas debate - Elizabeth Sperti won the district tournament with an undefeated record, and will join Henry Smith at Nationals this year. The LD students debated about the right to housing in the United States.

  • Public Forum debate - the  teams of Sofia Chaudruc/Daisy Chaudruc and Honor Allen/Oliver Brady finished in the top three. The PF teams debated about American policy in Israel/Palestine.

  • Extemporaneous Speaking (Speech) - Nina Kaushikkar will attend Nationals in International Extemporaneous Speaking, and Jasper Davidoff qualified in United States Extemporaneous Speaking. These students answered questions about current events with 30 minutes to prepare a seven minute speech. In finals, Kaushikkar discussed the upcoming French elections, and Davidoff discussed the economic implications of President Trump's immigration policy.

Two teams of ETHS students finished first and second at the Milo Cup tournament held in February in Nebraska. Competition results include the following:

  • Juniors Isabelle Bavis and Gigi Wade reached the octafinals round (top 16 out of 70 teams)

  • Junior Sofia Chaudruc and senior Daisy Chaudruc reached the quarterfinals (top 8 out of 70 teams)


ETHS Speech & Debate coach Jeff Hannan explained how debate team members took proactive steps at the Milo Cup to point out implicit bias when juniors Jade Johnson and Yolanda Odufuwa were debating about the Cuban embargo. Johnson and Odufuwa chose to discuss the embargo's effects on Afro-Cubans, and the way capitalism and racism are intertwined, meeting “significant resistance from opponents and judges alike” during their debate, according to Hannan. “As two young black women in debate, this resistance didn't surprise Jade or Yolanda, but it is still frustrating.”

After a discussion with their teammates and coaches, the two teams of ETHS students that advanced to the round robin platform (Bavis/Wade and Chaudruc/Chaudruc) decided to use research and arguments prepared by Johnson/Odufuwa in their cases. At the beginning of each debate, they read the following statement:


"We cannot take credit for this case. Prior to this tournament, we made a decision not to run these arguments because we wanted our cases to produce what we thought would generate success rather than focusing on racial issues. This case was written by Jade Johnson and Yolanda Odufuwa, who spent hours developing and processing these issues. The reactions of white competitors and judges at this tournament undermined their work and determination to have conversations about race in debate rounds. We are reading this case because it is necessary to engage in these conversations about race because it applies to everyone. The work our friends put towards these arguments should not go unnoticed."


“Thanks to the incredible work that Jade and Yolanda had done in preparation, these two teams finished first and second in the round robin,” noted Hannan.