HCDE News Blog

In a first, CASE Debates team takes top prize at 2021 National Speech & Debate Championships

For Rodrigo Trujillo, it was the perfect culmination of his high school debate career—taking top team honors at one of the largest and most prestigious debate championships in the United States.

Not only that, it was the first time ever that a CASE Debates team took top honors in the World Schools Debate event at the 2021 National Speech and Debate Championship.

Rodrigo Trujillo, Diego Castillo, Ebenezer Appiah, and Anthony Hoang attend the 2021 National Speech and Debate Championship, held virtually.

“Debate taught me that if you do not prepare or do your research, you’re probably wrong,” said Trujillo. “When we finally won first place, it felt relieving, like all of our hard work, determination, and passion was finally being recognized by the world.”

Trujillo and his teammates from Alief ISD’s Elsik High School’s speech and debate team—Diego Castillo, Ebenezer Appiah and Anthony Hoang—wowed the judges with their rebuttal, or “opposition” as it’s known in debate leagues, to the belief that the benefits of expanding the U.S. Supreme Court outweigh the harms.

Elsik’s Space City Violet beat out 219 teams from the United States, China, and Canada in the World Schools Debate event. 

The event’s format combines prepared topics with impromptu topics, encouraging debaters to focus on specific issues rather than debate theory or procedural arguments.

Harris County Department of Education funds debate for inner-city youth through CASE Debates, an afterschool collaboration between HCDE’s Center for Afterschool, Summer and Enrichment for Kids (CASE for Kids) and the Houston Urban Debate League (HUDL).

Tournaments scheduled throughout the year give teens the access and opportunity to compete locally and nationally. Teams who win HUDL competitions at the local level receive funds to pay for entry fees, meals, and transportation to national competitions.

Through CASE Debates, a free program for students, debaters receive training and access to coaches. More importantly, CASE Debates offers them the opportunity to build self-esteem, expand their horizons, meet other like-minded students locally and nationally, and creates scholarship opportunities.

 “Without a single doubt, debate has played a crucial role in preparing me for a future in government and education through strengthening my research skills, broadening my academic horizons, and deepening my interests in sociology and government,” affirms Trujillo. “Debate did an amazing job at growing my confidence, but more importantly, it humbled me.”

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