News Post

Speech and debate team notches best finish ever at state championship; student and coach earn top honors
Speech and debate team notches best finish ever at state championship; student and coach earn top honors
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The Durham Academy speech and debate team earned the program’s best finish ever in the Tarheel Forensic League State Championship Tournament, held Saturday and Sunday in Southern Pines. As a team, competitors placed second in both the Kurt Earnest Speech Sweepstakes and Steven Davis Debate Sweepstakes — placing DA as the runner-up in the Governor’s Cup, or overall sweepstakes.

In addition, senior Bhamini Vellanki was named 2018 John Woolen/ Tarheel Forensic League Student of the Year, and Crawford Leavoy, director of DA’s speech and debate program, was recognized with the Mildred Hussey Award.

The John Woolen/TFL Student of the Year award recognizes a graduating senior who exemplifies the National Speech and Debate Association's Code of Honor, a dedication to the art of speech and debate, and a commitment to NSDA’s values. 

“It is only fitting that in her last tournament in North Carolina, this fantastic student be recognized for her leadership, her tenacity, her accomplishments and her commitment to making the community of speech and debate a better place,” Leavoy said of Vellanki.

The Mildred Hussey Award serves as the Tarheel Forensic League’s coach of the year honor.

“I’m honored to be recognized by my peers,” Leavoy said. “Each one of the past five years with this team has been incredibly special, and this year is no different. I’m grateful that other speech and debate professionals around our state recognize the amazing energy we have on our team as we continue to grow, diversify and expand what we are doing at Durham Academy.”

Individual Results

Twenty-seven DA Upper Schoolers competed in the TFL State Championship. Contributing to the team honors were individual recognitions, which are listed below:

  • Emily Donaldson ’20 is the state champion in JV Congressional Debate. (DA's first state championship in this event.)
  • Emily Kohn ’19 is the state champion in Humorous Interpretation. (DA's first state championship in this event.)
  • Bhamini Vellanki ’18 was third place in Congressional Debate.
  • Chris Burkhard ’21 was a double octafinalist (top 18) in JV Lincoln Douglas.
  • Bennett Dombcik ’20 was an octafinalist (top 8) in JV Lincoln Douglas.
  • Jacob Palmer ’20 was a quarterfinalist (top 8) in JV Lincoln Douglas.
  • Olivia Chilkoti ’18 was a quarterfinalist (top 4) in Lincoln Douglas.
  • Mac Hays and Esme Longley ’20 were quarterfinalists (top 4) in JV Public Forum.
  • Hebron Daniel and Thomas Owens ’18 were second place in Public Forum.
  • Nechama Huba ’19 was the runner-up in Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Carlton zum Brunnen ’20 was fifth place in Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Carlton zum Brunnen ’20 was fourth place in Impromptu Speaking.
  • Nechama Huba ’19 was the fifth place in Impromptu Speaking.
  • Emily Kohn ’19 was third place in Informative Speaking.
  • Annie Ma ’20 was a semifinalist (top 9) in Original Oratory.