Bellaire HS debate team shines at world’s biggest speech and debate tournament

Over the summer, the work doesn’t stop for Bellaire High School’s speech and debate team who competed in this year’s National Speech and Debate Tournament, hosted by the National Speech and Debate Association

The annual tournament took place in Phoenix, Arizona, June 12-16. With more than 6,000 students competing in what’s known as the world’s largest academic contest, Bellaire has made a name for itself.

“We’ve built a tradition of excellence at Bellaire High School where it’s expected that we make it to Nationals every single year,” said junior Karis Chen. “Mr. Stubbs (Bellaire High School Speech and Debate Coach) has us meet in what he calls ‘Congress bootcamp’ that starts at the beginning of May, and we meet every single day after school for at least two hours, so it’s a very intensive preparation process, but it’s one of the reasons why our program is so successful.”

Chen led her team to winning third overall in the congressional debate category, marking the third time in the last five years that Bellaire has had a student earn second or third place in the nation.

Freshman Samantha Tran and junior Varun Manickam earned spots in the quarterfinals, and senior Joshua Cheng secured a spot in the semifinals.

This year’s competition marked the 66th time in the last 68 years that the team has competed on the national stage, setting a national record.

“It feels really great,” said Chen. “We’ll definitely be back next year and hopefully continue the tradition of having someone in the top three for congressional debate.”

Coach Jay Stubbs has taught at Bellaire High School since 1999 and has coached hundreds of state and national qualifiers with multiple National Speech and Debate Tournament finalists. He attributes his team’s success to their focus, commitment, and support from fellow HISD team members.

“Education is a tough thing to do these days, and getting to work with these kids makes all the difference in the world,” said Stubbs. “We’ve had great administrative support, great support from the district, good coaching and teaching and great kids to work with. This year was just another great example of everything coming together nicely.”

For more information about Bellaire High School’s Speech and Debate team, click here.