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Support Sunset Speech and Debate to the National Tournament

Organized by: Rohan Bharadwaj

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Three years ago, our team didn't even have a stand in the school club fair. Two years ago, our team was disorganized and many new members gave up on it. Last year, our team finally got a coach and doubled our number of State Championship Qualifiers. This year, we qualified six people to compete at the National Speech and Debate Championship in Salt Lake City, Utah!  These six people are the first National Qualifiers from Sunset High School since one student qualified in 1993. However, to make a dream 23 years in the making a reality, we need to raise $8,000 to cover tournament, travel, and lodging fees. Our team has improved tremendously over the years and has exploded from having a single digit membership to being one of the largest, fastest-growing, and most successful teams in the state. On top of meeting twice every week and competing almost every weekend, the six National Qualifiers practice almost every day and are extremely passionate about our events and our team. We live and breathe for Speech and Debate. Unfortunately, this activity that we love is incredibly expensive, and we need some help at this point in the year after paying for numerous tournaments, travel expenses, and even our coach’s substitute teachers so that we can attend multi-day tournaments. As you think about donating and spreading the word, please consider these appeals from us and from our coaches: Christina Im (Sophomore, Qualified in Oratory) I'll admit it. When I first joined Speech and Debate, I was in it for the boost on college applications. I quickly realized, however, that Speech and Debate would have much more meaningful and tangible benefits for me as both a student and a human being. Debate has enhanced my argumentative skills and my understanding of and interest in topics ranging from ethics to history to contemporary politics. Individual events such as Oratory and Poetry Reading have increased my confidence in front of audiences and have made me a more effective and engaging presenter. These are not abstract, esoteric skills that are only relevant in a classroom or at a tournament. Rather, they're things that I'll continue to draw on throughout my personal and professional life. Beyond all of this individual growth, Speech and Debate has allowed me to make connections that will no doubt last a lifetime. At tournaments, I've learned amazing things from fellow speakers from across Oregon, California, and Washington who work to think critically about and make a genuine difference in the world around them. At school, I've found steadfast friends and above-and-beyond coaches in Speech and Debate—the team has become nothing short of a second home. I'm incredibly fortunate to have this team and this activity in my life, and I know that the same will be true for Speech and Debate members everywhere for years and years to come. Please help us have the experience of competing at Nationals to allow these skills, connections, and passion to grow. Sarthak Shah (Sophomore, Qualified in Humorous Interpretation): I wouldn’t be going to Nationals if it weren’t for a flyer. It was a flyer I picked up my freshman year during the club fair. It was all about Speech and Debate, and it sounded mildly interesting, so I decided to give it a shot. After that first meeting, I was launched into a different world, a world of speeches that make you want to cry and laugh and think, a world of debates and rebuttals and sudden nuclear war. Freshman year, I watched videos of National Finalists in awe because they were at a level so far beyond me. It would be incredible, I thought, just to be on that stage someday. This year, as a sophomore, I’m halfway there, and I almost don’t believe that I’ve made it to Salt Lake City. Speech and Debate has given me confidence, knowledge, focus, patience, friendships and memories. Nats is an incredible opportunity; I can promise that I’ll give it my best. Rohan Bharadwaj (Junior, Qualified in US Extemporaneous) Any other activity I do pales in comparison to the amount of passion, respect, and dedication I have for Speech and Debate. I attend every meeting, tournament, and fundraiser, and I practice, research, and write relentlessly during my spare time. I don’t try to fit Speech and Debate into my schedule - rather, I tailor my schedule to accommodate Speech and Debate because it is my top priority. The ability to freely speak my mind on politics, economics, and philosophy, the way in which I can inspire and overpower people with my words, and the lifelong friendships I’ve made are all reasons that I love this activity so much. Like many people, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my life, but Speech and Debate has always been there for me. I can’t imagine my life without Speech and Debate and without my team at Sunset. Finding out that I made Nationals along with five of my teammates was probably the best day of my life, but I am worried about the financial burden and would really appreciate any support. Ashwin Bhat (Junior, Qualified in Lincoln-Douglas Debate): Throughout my three years in high school, Debate has been the primary way that I've been able to actively engage in intellectual activity without ever losing interest. Interestingly, I've never strayed from the debate type that I hold most dear, Lincoln-Douglas. Lincoln-Douglas Debate has enabled me to focus on cultivating my own ideas and approaches to tackling tangible political scenarios not only from a policy perspective, but from a philosophical, moral, and ethical standpoint as well. Skills I have learned from Debate have not remained isolated in the activity but have actually bled into everything else that I do, from classwork to arguing with friends to finding topics I’m so passionate about that I’ll stay up until 3 in the morning researching them. I have become a more analytical, inquisitive, and independent individual who has found true belonging in a family of goofy debate nerds. Debate has become an integral part of my life and I hope it will continue to stay that way for a long time to come. Please help our nerdy family get to Salt Lake City. Sneha Sinha (Senior, Qualified in Public Forum Debate) The first trophy I ever won was from Speech and Debate. Speech and Debate is by far my biggest passion; I’ve learned so much from it, both about myself and about the world I live in. Speech and Debate has also helped me develop friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. This activity has given me lots of confidence, respect for a wide variety of ideas and perspectives, and it has unlocked doors for me in college that I would have never imagined. Since my freshman year, I always dreamed of going to Nationals, and so I’ve always worked hard and dedicated myself to improving my craft and my teammates. Last year I researched extensively, practiced obsessively, and worked my hardest, but unfortunately, I did not make Nationals. Instead of getting discouraged, however, I decided to double (maybe triple) the amount of effort that I had put forth last year; this was my senior year and I knew it was my last chance to accomplish a dream I’ve desperately wanted to achieve all throughout high school. I am so proud and excited to say that I’m going to Salt Lake City with my best friends and teammates by my side. Nimisha Kapur (Senior, Qualified in Public Forum Debate): Joining Speech and Debate my freshman year has made me the person I am today. Practicing and competing with my teammates have provided the most memorable and proud moments of my high school career. For four years, I tirelessly dedicated all of my time to improving myself as a debater so that I could make it to Nationals one day. To accomplish this goal, I had to work persistently and do endless amounts of debate prep, sometimes staying up all night to write cases or to find more evidence. Because this team has become my life, I also spent hours and hours helping new debaters develop their skills and become as addicted to debate as I am. I am now a senior, and I have finally accomplished my goal of making it to Nationals—something that I thought was an unrealistic dream that would be nice to shoot for, but unlikely to ever actually happen. It would be an absolute honor and a privilege to represent my school and community as I travel to Salt Lake City to compete with people from all over the nation. Rohan Hiatt (Assistant Coach): I joined the Sunset Speech and Debate team around three months ago as their new and first ever assistant coach. It’s hard to believe that a team that didn’t have a coach 18 months ago needs an assistant coach now. As a debater myself, I always knew that I could connect and empathize with the competitors on a much deeper level, and I knew that I would be able to help guide them to more success. That being said, I can honestly say that never in my entire debate career have I found a team with more passion, more talent, and more camaraderie than this one. Every single member of this team deserves to go to Nationals for the endless hours of work and the countless days of competition that they dedicate and power through joyfully. This year, we qualified six members of this fantastic team to the NSDA National Tournament in Salt Lake City, the first time multiple members of the Sunset High School team have qualified for Nats in nearly 40 years. These six individuals are leaders, and they represent the ridiculous amount of talent on this team. It would be a travesty if we were unable to send anyone to Nationals because of financial reasons; the experience will not only improve these students’ skills and provide an incredible educational experience, but it will also enhance their abilities as team leaders in the future. There is much more at stake than a simple tournament. I can confidently say that there is no other group of six people I know who deserve to attend Nationals more than these students. If I could send the entire team, I would, but for now, I urge you to donate whatever you can to help these amazing individuals. Eliza Haas (Head Coach): I started coaching this team at the beginning of last year, and I quite honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed up. I had no idea how much time and energy I would need to pour into this team, and I had no idea how worthy these team members were of that time and effort. They are a hilarious, tenacious, supportive, kind, and insightful group, and there are no other people that I would be as proud to coach. They drive me nuts, but they also give me so much faith in and hope for the future. Over the past two years, I have watched this team grow as competitors and as a family, and I could not be more delighted for our National Qualifiers. The team as a whole and these competitors in particular have never lost their joy and love for this activity despite the immense amount of stress it creates and time it occupies. They support each other and strive to do their absolute best every single day of the long, draining Speech and Debate season. It has been 23 years since Sunset qualified anyone to go to the National Tournament, and this year, we’ve qualified six extremely talented and dedicated speakers. These students have sacrificed a lot of sleep and sanity for their events, and competing at Nats will be a dream come true for them. But we still have to actually get to Salt Lake City, and here is where you come in. Anything that you can spare would go a long way towards getting our team to Utah and putting roofs over our heads and food in our bellies, thereby enabling us to compete. I can’t think of a group of people who deserve this opportunity more than Sneha, Nimisha, Rohan, Ashwin, Christina, and Sarthak, and I know that our community will show them its support. Thank you for anything you can donate. Selected results from this season, in addition to the dozens of individual awards received: North Oregon National Qualifiers:  1st Place, Debate Team Sweepstakes  2nd Place, Individual Event Team Sweepstakes District 10 Championships:  Qualified 19 people to Oregon State Championships  A combined 24 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place awards Southridge Invitational:  1st Place, Team Sweepstakes Cal Invitational at UC Berkeley:  Octa-finalist and Semi-finalist in Lincoln-Douglas Debate  Octa-finalist in Duo Interpretation  2 Top Speaker Awards in Lincoln-Douglas Debate Linfield College Singletary Tournament:  2nd Place, Team Sweepstakes Lewis & Clark Jean Ward Invitational:  3rd Place, Team Debate Sweepstakes Pacific University Invitational:  3rd Place, Team Sweepstakes


Organized by

Rohan Bharadwaj

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