First CASE Debates Tournament of 2022-2023 off to Strong Start

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October 26, 2022 by HCDE Communications

The University of Houston’s Agnes Arnold Hall served as the background for the First Place CASE Debates tournament of the season, which welcomed the participation of more than 160 Harris County high school students on October 22.

“We are so proud to have facilitated such a great day!” exclaimed CASE for Kids Director Lisa Caruthers, Ph.D. “These well-dressed future leaders—mostly first-time debaters—demonstrated skills, practiced critical thinking, and shared knowledge beyond their years.”

In its sixth year, the debate program funded through Harris County Department of Education’s Center for Afterschool, Summer and Enrichment for Kids (CASE for Kids) is a partnership with the Houston Urban Debate League (HUDL), a nonprofit organization that promotes academic and advocacy skills among urban teens through speech and debate.

Through CASE Debates, debaters receive free training and access to coaches and tournaments they would otherwise be able to access.

Seasoned debaters like senior Kacidy Campbell from Spring Woods High School (Spring Branch ISD) confidently display the skills she has acquired through debate, such as public speaking, analysis, organization, and research.

“For people like me, who want an education and strive to know everything so I always know how to respond, debating the other side means learning everything possible,” said Campbell, who placed second in the varsity World Schools Debate event.

This year, Aldine ISD joined the CASE Debates program to serve students at Aldine, Blanson CTE, Carver Magnet, Eisenhower, Nimitz, and MacArthur high schools. Pasadena High School (Pasadena ISD) and Hastings High School (Alief ISD) are also new to the CASE Debates family.

CASE for Kids Director Lisa Caruthers (center) poses with members of the Spring Woods and MacArthur high schools debate teams during the first tournament of the season, Oct. 22, 2022.

For Nataly Mazariegos, a freshman at Carver Magnet High School who has participated in other afterschool activities like robotics, debate builds confidence and poise.

“Even though I’ve only been doing it for two months, debate has changed my life,” she said. “I’m not very good at talking to new people. In robotics, it’s very different. I don’t talk to many people because it’s more ‘behind the scenes.’ But now, I’m constantly meeting new people. I like speech and debate because there are no hard feelings after every round. We talk to each other and other teams. We laugh about what we did wrong and what we did right.”

Through debate, students learn how to expand their horizons and be resilient.

A blunder during the tournament forced Mazariegos’ team to think on their feet.

“Things got messed up on our invitation, so we didn’t have the right motion, but they gave us 10 minutes to prepare,” she said. “Honestly, I think we did really well. I’ve definitely learned so many lessons. Imagine what I could do in four years.”

To learn more about CASE Debates, visit

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