Arguing against the resolution that “The United States federal government should recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation”, Los Altos’ Shirley Cheng & Ryan Lee, triumphed over Bishop O’Dowd’s Claudia Hester & Alden O’Rafferty to capture the Notre Dame Parliamentary Debate Warm-Up title this weekend.

Left to right: Claudia Hester & Alden O'Rafferty and Ryan Lee & Shirley Cheng pose after finals. 

Left to right: Claudia Hester & Alden O'Rafferty and Ryan Lee & Shirley Cheng pose after finals. 

Both teams advanced to the elimination rounds with 4-1 records. Los Altos’ Cheng & Lee defeated Goldberg Academy’s Ben Schwartz & Amos Karlson in octofinals, Berkeley’s Kai Burgmann & Cole McCann-Phillips in quarterfinals, and Campolindo’s Shannon Bonet & Sharon Yuan in semifinals.

Meanwhile, Bishop O’Dowd’s Hester & O’Rafferty walked over Bishop O’Dowd’s Meade Jacobsen & McKenzie Taffe before venturing on to prevail over Campolindo’s Arjun Chimni & Colin Jones in quarterfinals and Evergreen Valley’s Anirudh Mani & Janav Sharma in semifinals.

In novice, though there were no elimination rounds, Notre Dame's Ananya Thapur & Madeleine Wong earned the top seed with a 5-0 record. 

The novice top-seeded team of Ananya Thapur & Madeleine Wong poses with medals. 

The novice top-seeded team of Ananya Thapur & Madeleine Wong poses with medals. 

The season opener attracted 68 teams in the open division and 32 in novice. Coming from several nearby leagues, teams debated 5 preliminary rounds tournament before breaking into octofinals for varsity. Rounds were single-flighted and the tournament offered a distinct novice format, with 30 minutes of preparation time instead of the normal 20, and 5-5-5-5-3-3 speech times. 

The award for top speaker was earned by Shirley Cheng, with partner Ryan Lee and Evergreen Valley’s Janav Sharma closely following. In the novice division, Notre Dame’s Madeleine Wong, Dougherty Valley’s Eric Luo, and Leland’s Aditya Sundaram earned first, second, and third speaker, respectively.

Students were generally pleased with the tournament’s quick pace due to the use of online ballots instead of paper. “Timing had a few delays where rounds were pushed back, but it was student run, so what it had was pretty good,” said first-time attendee Arjun Chimni of Campolindo High School. 

Looking towards the future, Notre Dame’s Director of Speech and Debate Mariel Cruz is considering tournament expansion possibilities. “I would consider double flighting the tournament in order to accommodate more [waitlisted] teams,” she said. “However, it would make the schedule a lot longer, so I would see what other coaches think before changing anything.”

The Notre Dame tournament is the first of the year in Northern California, and marks the beginning a rigorous competitive season. The circuit next convenes at local league tournaments and the Totally Free Tournament. 


Campolindo Arjun Chimni & Colin Jones def. Evergreen Valley Jenna Bao & Winnie Dong (2-1)
Berkeley Kai Burgmann & Cole McCann-Phillips def. Campolindo David Gomez-Siu & Sophie Stankus (2-1)
Bishop O’Dowd Claudia Hester & Alden O’Rafferty w/o Bishop O’Dowd Meade Jacobsen & McKenzie Taffe (n/a)
Berkeley Gaurav Ghosal & Talia Wolf-Jacobs def. Leland Josef (Joey) Schmuelling & Shyan Shokrzadeh (2-1)
Los Altos Shirley Cheng & Ryan Lee def. Goldberg Academy Ben Schwartz & Amos Karlson (3-0)
Evergreen Valley Anirudh Mani & Janav Sharma def. Valley Christian Haiman Wong & Adrika Yousuf (2-1)
Evergreen Valley Mina Mohebbi & Bryant Tran def. Silicon Valley Debating Union Harrison Kepner & Rajeev Sharma (3-0)
Campolindo Shannon Bonet & Sharon Yuan def. Dougherty’s Valley Michael Finnessey & Haris Muhammad Khan (3-0)


Bishop O’Dowd Hester & O’Rafferty def. Campolindo Chimni & Jones (2-1)
Los Altos Cheng & Lee def. Berkeley Burgmann & McCann-Phillips (3-0)
Campolindo Bonet & Yuan def. Berkeley Ghosal & Wolf-Jacobs (2-1)
Evergreen Valley Mani & Sharma w/o Evergreen Valley Mohebbi & Tran (n/a)


Bishop O’Dowd HO def. Evergreen Valley MS (3-0)
Los Altos CL def. Campolindo BY (2-1)


Los Altos CL def. Bishop O’Dowd HO (2-1)

Our Northern California correspondent is Emily Her, who debates for Dougherty Valley High School.