This year's Speech and Debate team, under the direction of Mr. Jim Welty, experienced a pivotal season of competitive success, student retention and team growth. The team competed in 26 tournaments — six of them out of state, earned more than a dozen individual championships and took fourth place at the Arizona state championship meet. Team members earned a combined 7,096 NSDA points, an extraordinary showing for a single season, given that their cumulative points up until this year totaled 10,921.
Just as important to Mr. Welty is the fact that member retention was 74% — a great number that reflects both new and improved audition procedures and the dedication of this young team. The team included 16 freshmen which made the class of 2026 the largest class and 13 sophomores whose prowess made the class of 2025 the most competitive. For the 2023-24 school year, 38 members will return which forecasts great promise for next season.
The team includes both students from Brophy and Xavier College Preparatory with 71 students earning NSDA points this season. Top cumulative scores this year:
- Timothy Jiang '25 (684)
- Chloe Chun XCP '24 (605)
- Elise Kindle XCP '24 (567)
- Mahima Sanghera XCP '25 (413)
- Nathan Cai '24 (363)
- Charles Judd '24 (338)
- Henry Ponce '25 (305)
- Hope Smith XCP '24 (304)
- Santiago Paul '25 (282)
- Michael Tsai '25 ( 280)
This year's student leadership included team captains Charlie Judd and Elise Kindle, debate captains Timothy Chiang and Chloe Chun, speech captain Nathan Cai, team historian Mahima Sanghera and public relations managers Henry Ponce and Campbell Brown.
As the season was wrapping up, Mr. Welty was featured on the education website Twinkl.com in an article entitled "Debate in Schools: Why It Matters
." His excerpt from the article was a clear expression of why and how this co-curricular activity can lead to much personal growth and transformation for young people:
"The motto I typically use in recruiting for our team is 'find your voice.' Though the expression sounds like a platitude, it's more a direct statement of mission. Social phobias rank among the most severe fears held by most individuals. People are terrified about public speaking, particularly in a context where they are quite literally judged. Our gut response is, therefore, impersonation, to imitate the bravest speakers out there, and match their prowess as best we can. But the real trick to great public speaking is to be yourself in front of the room. Middle and high school students are in a constant process of discovery, hoping to uncover who they are. In Speech & Debate, we take that process and teach fundamentals like argument structure, rhetorical tactics and paralanguage variance all with the same basic goal: to help our students find their voice. Public speaking education is fundamentally about getting students to craft a sense of self and showcase it to others, becoming stronger self-advocates along the way."View photos from the 2022-23 season here.