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BHS Debate Team Wraps Up the 2016-2017 Year

posted May 19, 2017, 12:14 PM by Tina Steele   [ updated May 20, 2017, 10:34 AM ]
The 2016-2017 Bartlesville High School Debate Team has been successful at this year’s round of tournaments and competitions.

In Lincoln-Douglas style debate senior Jack Williams, earned 3rd place at Jenks, 2nd place at Booker T Washington, and 1st place at Bishop Kelley, Union and Broken Arrow. Both seniors Abigail Hales and Grace Mitchell won 2nd place at Bishop Kelley and Broken Arrow respectively. Junior Jason Brewer qualified for regionals at Bishop Kelley.

In Public Forum debate, juniors Eli Holder and Chase Colaw placed 4th at districts, 3rd at Jenks and 2nd at Booker T Washington. Holder partnered with junior Vishnuprasada Vasudevan to earn the 3rd place at Union. Holder also partnered with senior Pranoy Behera to win 2nd place at Bishop Kelley. Behera and Vasudevan teamed up to go to the regional and state tournaments. The Vasudevan and Hales team qualified for nationals after winning 1st place at districts.

In Extemporaneous Speaking there are two categories - Domestic and Foreign. Jack Williams placed 3rd at Booker T Washington, Bishop Kelley, and Union, while earning 2nd at Broken Arrow and Districts in domestic extemp. Sophomore Keely Laurence won 1st place at Broken Arrow, qualified for regionals and then qualified for state also in domestic extemp. Hales placed 2nd at Bishop Kelley and Vasudevan earned 1st at regionals and 1st at districts, becoming the state champion in foreign extemp.

Pranoy Behera was elected to represent the district at the National Student Congress this summer. Jack Williams’ legislations was chosen to be sent to nationals. Sophomores Brett Powers and Sydney Hauser were the first humorous duet team to qualify for regionals in 14 years.

All of the these accomplishments were made after a hard transition of Linda Shipley retiring and Matt Pascucci taking on the role as the coach. “For me, personally, it's been a really fun experience,” Williams said. “Pascucci has a different perspective than Ms. Shipley. For the team, it has been a good experience to learn a new way to debate.” The team will once again experience another transition with Pascucci leaving to pursue a PhD in Literature at University of Phoenix in Arizona. Stephanie Leslie, a freshman English teacher, is stepping up to coach the debate team. “I just thought debate overall would be great because the students are great and hardworking,” Leslie said. “I fully trust her to do what she thinks is best for the program,” Pascucci said. “She is entering a new teaching position and I think once she takes it on as her own she’ll do great things with it.”

As the school year comes to a close, the Debate Team is not only losing their coach but also the seniors, leaving juniors like Vasudevan to take on helping the new coach. “I’m excited and nervous to step up - like Jack and Pranoy did in the past,” Vasudevan said.  The people leaving the program usually want to leave a legacy behind. Pascucci’s legacy, he hopes, is in the mindset he taught his students. “For all debaters ever, as a mindset, debate is flawed,” Pascucci said. “Proving one side is wrong makes it really hard to interact with people but the skills created in debate are the abilities to collaborate with others to have new ideas and new solutions. That is what overall makes the world a better place.”
2016-2017 BHS Debate Team
2016-2017 BHS Debate Team

Bottom Row - left to right: Jack Williams, Ben Mills, Izzy Rencountre, Sydney Hauser, Izzy Hales, Edwin Ding, Keely Laurence, Brett Powers, and Joaquin Montiel.

Middle Row - left to right: Megan Hays, Grace Mitchell, Nevaeh Davis, Madeline Hudson, Spencer Hales, Abby Hales, Pranoy Behera, Russell Drummond, Eli Holder and Debate Coach, Matt Pascucci. 

Top Row
- left to right: Lydia Broom, Markus Klawun, Logan Swanson, Adrian Barker, Jacob Lurie, Chase Colaw, Vishnu Vasudevan and Nick Hales.