CYPRESS TEXAS — Students from eight CFISD high schools earned honors at the Texas Forensic Association (TFA) State Championship for speech and debate, including a second-place finish by Cypress Creek High School and a top-10 finish from Cypress Woods High School.
More than 200 Texas public and private schools of all sizes were represented at the tournament, held March 14-16 at Alief Taylor High School.
Students participated in preliminary rounds of competition in a variety of debate, public speaking and oral interpretation events in front of judges who evaluate and rate their performances for content and style. Those with the most successful results move forward in the competition, advancing to be among the best of the best in Texas. Cy-Fair, Cypress Falls, Cypress Lakes, Cypress Park, Cypress Ranch, and Jersey Village high schools also had students advance.
Cypress Park High School students (from left) Valeria Carranza, Lesly Vargas, Dawson Maag, Alexandria Rodriguez, Alison Ho, Tiffany Damon and Alexandria Borges competed at the Texas Forensic Association State Championship where Rodriguez finished as a quarterfinalist in Program Oral Interpretation.
Cypress Creek junior Ivey Knebel placed second in Poetry Interpretation. Knebel performed a collection of poems about managing depression, entitling the piece, “My Super Power,” and explaining that the intent behind it was to emphasize the opportunities life can bring people if they persevere toward the future. Cypress Lakes High School juniors Murtaza Jetpurwala and Ca’Lenna Minniefield both advanced to the event’s semifinals, placing them among the top 18.
“Speech and debate gives you numerous experiences,” Knebel said. “It gives you much needed communication skills and provides an outlet to address problems you believe need awareness in a creative way.”
Cypress Woods junior Angela Zhong placed among the top eight out of more than 180 contestants in Lincoln-Douglas Debate. The assigned topic addressed whether the government should treat illegal drug use primarily as a public health concern or a matter for the criminal justice system.
Cypress Woods High School junior Angela Zhong (right) and poses with Jacob Koshak, Cypress Woods debate teacher and coach, after she placed among the top eight in Lincoln-Douglas Debate at the Texas Forensic Association State Championship.
“Representing Cypress Woods at the TFA State Tournament was an absolute honor,” Zhong said. “I could not have made it this far without my school’s administration, and I am deeply grateful for the support that CFISD has provided me along my journey in speech and debate.”
Also in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Cypress Falls High School sophomore Rajveer Kindra finished in the top 32, while Cypress Falls senior DeAndra Robinson and Cypress Ranch junior Michael Zhou both finished in the top 64. These students all earned winning preliminary records of 4-2 or better to reach the elimination portion of the tournament on the last day. They had to research the pro and con sides of the issue and be prepared to flip between these different positions from round to round.
Cypress Ranch High School juniors Brandon Wright (left) and Michael Zhou qualified for the Texas Forensic Association State Championship in Original Oratory and Lincoln-Douglas Debate, respectively.
Among Cypress Falls High School’s participants at the Texas Forensic Association State Championship was sophomore Rajveer Kindra (second from right), who finished among the top 32 participants in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, and senior Cassidy Lee (second from left), who was a quarterfinalist in Prose.
Students qualified for the state championship by accumulating points for their successes at local meets from September through February. A total of 49 CFISD students from eight high schools participated at the state level this year.
“Because of its difficulty, the Texas state tournament is considered one of the most prestigious in the country,” said Stacy McGee, CFISD curriculum coach for speech and debate. “I’m very proud of the large representation and success our district consistently achieves year after year.”
Below are CFISD’s further accomplishments:
Public Forum Debate
Students argue in partnerships on a topic taken from current events. The state topic addressed urban housing problems:
- Hannah Bertinot and Tvisha Malik, Cypress Woods (top 32).
Students participate in a mock legislative session that follows parliamentary procedure as they consider a variety of bills and decide whether to pass them into law:
- Bryce Gardner, Cypress Falls (top 32)
Students present a 10-minute, memorized speech that they have written and use visual aids they have created to educate the audience on a topic of their choosing:
- Alexis Shamburg, Jersey Village – semifinalist; and
- Upneet Kaur, Cy-Fair – quarterfinalist.
Jersey Village High School Debate Teacher and Coach Regina Jennings (left) congratulates senior Alexis Shamburg on being a state semifinalist in Informative Speaking at the Texas Forensic Association State Championship.
Students are assigned topics at the competition site on an open array of subjects and given only one minute to prepare a five-minute speech:
- Elijah Ochoa, Cypress Creek – semifinalist.
Program Oral Interpretation
Students weave together different literary genres across fiction and nonfiction for a 10-minute presentation focused on a social issue. The event highlights a student’s dramatic advocacy skills as they choose texts and message around which to craft their performance:
- Nathan Nguyen, Cypress Creek – semifinalist; and
- Alexandria Rodriguez, Cypress Park – quarterfinalist
Students perform with partners a 10-minute, memorized scene from a single piece of literature:
- Alyssa Henson and Aliyah Holmes, Cypress Creek – semifinalists.
Students present a 7-minute reading of literature appropriate for the genre:
- Cassidy Lee, Cypress Falls – quarterfinalist.
These students are taught by Perry Beard at Cy-Fair, Dustin Kay at Cy Creek, Miranda Fairman at Cy Falls, Hannah McCord at Cy Lakes, Tammi Raley at Cy Park, Julie Bonner at Cy Ranch, Jacob Koshak at Cy Woods, and Regina Jennings at Jersey Village.
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