Speech and Debate Wins Trophy in Washington

February 11, 2019

Parker School’s speech and debate team recently traveled to Washington State to compete in the well-known Thomas S. Foley Memorial Tournament.  Parker’s team, the smallest of the 28 schools competing, won third place in the tournament-wide Sweepstakes category.

This three-day tournament held in Spokane on January 31 to February 2, included 1,000 individual competitors from 28 schools in Washington, Idaho and Texas. Thirty-four Parker high school students competed in multiple categories with 22 students placing in the top four in their categories.  

Parker nearly swept the Junior Varsity Public Forum Debate category with six two-person teams of all first-year debaters placing first, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh out of 17 teams.  Sisters Maddie and Sophia Weigle placed first, while Everett Gordon and Amanda Black and McKenzie Byron and Elise Barthel tied for third place. 

“This tournament offered us the opportunity to go up against numerous mainland schools,” says Carl Sturges, Parker School headmaster and debate coach.  “We know now we are competitive on a national level.”  

Additional standout performances included: a first-place finish in Open Program Oral Interpretation by Hunter Kalahiki-Arnbrister; first and fourth place by Zoe Vann and Malia Dills in Political Impromptu Speaking; third place in Junior Varsity Lincoln-Douglas Debate by Rachel Pessah; third place in Novice Lincoln-Douglas Debate by Brayden Byron and Mele Rickards; third place in Open Lincoln-Douglas Debate by Zoe Vann; third place in Open Congress by Eliose Robertson; and fourth place in Editorial Commentary by Mele Rickards.

The Thomas S. Foley Memorial tournament also awarded the best speakers in each debate category.  Parker students again nearly swept this special category with a first and second place in Junior Varsity Public Form Debate by Sophia Weigle and Elissa Mazkour; first and second place in Novice Lincoln-Douglas by Brayden Byron and Mele Rickards; first and third place by Zoe Vann and Hunter Kalahiki-Arnbrister in Open Lincoln-Douglas; and third place by Rachel Pessah in Junior Varsity Lincoln-Douglas Debate.

To the surprise of tournament attendees and competitors, Parker School’s headmaster and debate coach Carl Sturges received the “Thomas S. Foley Ambassador’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Forensics Education” for his dedication to coaching debate throughout his nearly 35-year career.

The entire trip was made possible by a generous grant from the Julia Burke Foundation to cover traveling costs and tournament fees for all participants during the 2018-2019 school year. 

This is the eighth tournament Parker School’s speech and debate has competed in this season and is the team’s eighth Sweepstakes trophy.  Next, the team will participate in the ‘Iolani Debate Qualifying Tournament on O’ahu in mid-February.