New Beginnings

Speech and debate team tackles their first tournament of the year to gain experience


photo submitted by Mrs. Franke

The speech and debate team bonds over their first tournament while waiting for round results.

Emily Barnett, Reporter

Six students set out to try something new, gain experience, and break out of their comfort zones for their first speech and debate tournament at Pattonville High in Maryland Heights last Friday.

After school, the group gathered in the foyer and left for the tournament and came back late Friday night. They continued early on Saturday to finish their debates and to cheer on their teammate freshman Sanjana Anand who was the only teammate to continue to quarterfinals.

“I was so surprised. I didn’t even expect to win rounds, when I made it to the top 10 percent. I was shocked but it was cool,” Anand said.

The tournament was a big event with more than 800 entries. During the first day of debate, four Liberty students competed in the Lincoln Douglas debate. The topic was that in a democracy, the public’s right to know ought to be valued above the right to privacy of candidates for public office. The remaining two Liberty students participated as a team in public forum debate where the topic was resolved that The United States federal government should impose price controls on the pharmaceutical industry.  

Sophomore Nawal Cheema and freshmen Mahathi Manikandan, Sruthi Ramesh, Jaden Zelidon and Christina Bertenshaw were all led by Ms. Franke who is running the speech and debate club for her first year at Liberty.

Prior to leading speech and debate at Liberty, Ms. Franke has had a lot of experience herself. For Mrs. Franke, along with the team, the tournament was all about building experience.

photo submitted by Ms. Franke
Freshman Sanjana Anand qualified to the quarterfinals at Liberty’s first speech and debate tournament of the year.

“I thought they did great. It was their first time with nothing to go off of and I’m happy they were able to get up in front of everybody and talk,” Ms. Franke said.

“I like the types of events and well-rounded activities in debate and speech. You’ll always learn something new,” Franke said.

Anand, who made it to quarterfinals, won three rounds and lost one.  In her division, there were 42 competitors, and only nine of them had a record of 3-1, (nobody had a 4-0 record). 

Going into the quarterfinal round, Anand was the 4th (out of 42) seed going against a 5th seed student from Kansas City.  Although she lost her quarterfinal round, Anand stayed positive and was eager to learn and gain experience from the event.

“It was really cool and I hope to do more debate and speech tournaments,” Anand said.

The speech and debate team’s goal over the next year is to grow in numbers and promote the club through successes and by word, as well as building a strong and dedicated team.