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Debate Team’s Hot Streak Continues with Another Big Win

Another regional tournament, and another top notch performance by this year's debaters.

A phalanx of debaters display the awards from their recent tournament.

A phalanx of debaters display the awards from their recent tournament.

A phalanx of debaters display the awards from their recent tournament.

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The San Marino debate team members participated in the Southern California League Spring Debate at Schurr High School on Jan. 27.


They brought home 14 individual trophies along with Large School and Overall Sweepstakes awards.


Public Forum debaters Puja Balaji, a sophomore, and senior Ajay Natarajan, and Policy debaters Brian Kam, and  Kyle Wang, both seniors, qualified for the California State Championships.


Matthew Slimp is going into his ninth year as the advisor for Speech and Debate.


“I’m not surprised we did well, but I am surprised with who won,” Slimp said. “Some of the less experienced students outperformed the more experienced ones.”


The awards were impressive considering that San Marino High School, a relatively small school with only 1100 students, competed in the large-size divisions. Arcadia High School boasts around 4,000 students and competed in the same division.


The sweepstake award spans across the whole division where trophies are given to the school’s top three entries in the debate categories.


Balaji is no stranger to Speech and Debate, having been a part of the middle school team at Huntington Middle School and then joining the high school team her freshman year.


Her most recent tournament was with senior Ajay Natarajan in the Public Forum event.


“Public Forum Debate is a partner debate where each team of 2 people debates on a topic given at the beginning of the month,” Balaji said.


The two created a successful argument over whether Spain should grant Catalina it’s independence. They won first place for their argument.  


“Ajay is really fun to work with and super smart too,” Balaji said. “I think having a partner in debate is so much more fun and better than doing it by yourself.”


Kam also competed this past weekend where he worked alongside Weng in Policy Debate.


“I did Policy debate—otherwise known as the most original debate—it’s essentially a 2 partner event where you and a partner go against 2 other people from a different school,” Kam said. “It’s the longest type of debate event and definitely the hardest.”


Kam and Weng debated whether the United States’ federal government should substantially increase funding, and, or, regulation of primary and secondary education.


Their topic remains the same for the entire year, so the two have had ample time to construct their argument before competing in each debate tournament, they said.


They make quite the debate duo together, confronting each tournament with their solid arguments.


“Debating with Kyle has been pretty good because we work pretty well together,” Kam said. “We’ve known each other for a pretty long time, so we basically know what arguments we want to run, and what we expect from each other.”


Their case for the resolution was compelling enough to earn them second place in their category.


“We went in knowing that we were probably one of the more experienced teams in the pool,” Kam said.


Slimp has ambitious plans for the remainder of the year.


“My goals for the next tournament are to continue the excellence we have shown in previous years,” he said.

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Debate Team’s Hot Streak Continues with Another Big Win