KHS Debate brings home National Championship title


Kingwood High School debate team recently competed in the National Speech and Debate Association’s National Speech and Debate (NSDA)Tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The annual event brings thousands of the best high school speakers and debaters from across the country to compete in several events to determine a national champion in each respective event. Seniors, Emily Grantham and Leila Saklou went undefeated through the entire World Schools Debate tournament, compiling an 11-0 record to earn the title of National Champions.


World Schools Debate is the most popular format of debate in the world. Students compete in teams of three to five and debate a new topic each round, with alternating rounds being an impromptu topic where teams have one hour with no technology to prepare their arguments. The debates consist of three eight-minute speeches and one four-minute reply speech per team. In addition to teams from across the United States, the NSDA also invited the national teams from Taiwan and China. The 2018 NSDA National World Schools Debate Tournament was the largest debate tournament of its kind bringing in over 179 teams and 800 debaters.




In addition to a National Championship title and trophy, Grantham and Saklou each received a $2,000 scholarship to the school of their choice. During the tournament, Grantham was also recognized as the 12th Top Speaker over 800 participants. This acknowledgment was awarded to debaters who accumulated the highest scores in the tournament.


“World Schools Debate has taught us how to engage with both often equally justifiable sides of an argument, but more importantly, has taught us how to defend our position in a civil, yet passionate way,” Grantham said.  “At a time when division is the seemingly dominant theme in national social and political discourse, World Schools Debate has renewed my hope in bridging differences to overcome adversity - a principle that the city of Houston has well equipped us to put into practice.”

Also qualifying for Nationals from Kingwood High School were 2018 graduates, Devan Karp in Dramatic Interpretation, Alex Gagne and Carson Crane in World Schools Debate, and junior Darian McCrary in World Schools Debate. McCrary was awarded the 3rd highest ranking speaker in the country and both Gagne and McCrary finished 17th overall.




“I have had the opportunity to work with some of the best kids in the country, and our results over the past few years verify that as fact, not just the biased opinion of a coach who believes in his kids,” Jason Langston, Kingwood High School Debate coach, said.


Over the past three years, Kingwood has earned a first, second, and fifth place finish in World Schools Debate at the NSDA National Tournament. Kingwood Debate also boasts the highest number of current or former students, with four, named to the USA National Debate Team from a single public school in the country. Grantham and Saklou are current members of Team USA and will be competing for a world championship in Croatia and Slovenia later this summer.


“We have a lot of talent coming up and with the student leadership that we have in the program now, I have nothing but high expectations for us in the future,” Langston said.


Kingwood Debate looks forward to preparing for the state tournament, multiple international championships, and to return to Nationals in 2019 to defend their title.