Students Qualify for NSDA National Championship

May 23, 2016

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Jersey Village students Noah Kopesky, left, and Justin Meun, joined by teacher Regina Jennings, qualified for the National Speech and Debate Association’s National Championship in Duo Interpretation.

May 21, 2016—Seventeen students from CFISD high schools will compete at the National Speech and Debate Association’s National Championship, to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 12-17. 

To qualify, students had to place as top competitors at district tournaments held throughout the country this spring. A total of 75 schools from the greater Houston area comprise the East Texas and Space City districts from which CFISD students advanced.

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Jersey Village student Amelia Strickland, joined by teacher Regina Jennings, qualified for the NSDA National Championship in Humorous Interpretation.

Students can advance in a variety of events in the categories of debate, public speaking and literature performance. Earning the right to participate in this tournament places a student among the best speech and debate contestants in the United States. 

CFISD will be represented by students from Cy-Fair, Cypress Creek, Cypress Lakes, Cypress Springs, Cypress Woods, Jersey Village and Langham Creek high schools at the national championship. According to NSDA (, the tournament is one of the largest academic competitions in the world. NSDA, which also serves as the honor society for speech and debate students, awards winners college scholarships and also recognizes outstanding educators during this summer event.

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Jersey Village students Demi Navarro and Hannah Wisterman, joined by teacher Regina Jennings, qualified for the NSDA National Championship in Original Oratory.

The students representing CFISD will be:

Congressional Debate

  • Daniel Lehmann, Cypress Creek .

In Congressional Debate, students participate in a mock legislative session that follows parliamentary procedures similar to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. They consider a variety of bills and decide whether or not to pass them into law.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate

  • Cameron McConway, Cy-Fair; and
  • Tess Welch, Cy-Fair.

In Lincoln-Douglas Debate, students compete one-on-one as they tackle ethical social issues. These students have been assigned to discuss whether immigration should be considered a human right. 

Public Forum Debate

  • Jordi Barron and JJ Hayes, Cy-Fair.

In Public Forum Debate, teams of two argue over events currently in the news. This summer’s topic will be the pros and cons of the primary process in U.S. presidential elections. 

World Schools Debate

  • Hadley Luther, Cy-Fair; and
  • Sameer Abdali, Langham Creek.

World Schools Debate is a three-on-three format that assigns topics on domestic and international affairs in a more impromptu fashion. Students combine from different schools in their regions to participate on a team, which brings debaters who were sometimes competitors during the year together as they partner to represent their cities at the national championship. 

Extemporaneous Speaking

  • Alex Cox, Cypress Lakes (international category); and
  • Gary Talor, Cypress Springs (domestic category).

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Cypress Springs student Gary Talor, joined by teacher Tammi Raley, qualified for the NSDA National Championship in Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking.

Both International and Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking challenge participants to think on their feet as they are given a question regarding either foreign or U.S. affairs at the tournament and have only 30 minutes to prepare a 7-minute persuasive speech, which is delivered without notes. 

Original Oration

  • Milo Stewart, Cypress Woods;
  • Demi Navarro, Jersey Village;
  • Hannah Wisterman, Jersey Village; and
  • Mohammad Habib, Langham Creek.

Original Oratory requires students to write a 10-minute motivational speech on a topic of their choosing. Speeches are then memorized and delivered without notes.

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Cypress Woods student Milo Stewart, left, and Langham Creek student Mohammad Habib qualified for the NSDA National Championship in Original Oratory. 

Duo Interpretation

  • Noah Kopesky and Justin Meun, Jersey Village.

Duo Interpretation is an acting event in which partners perform a memorized 10-minute selection from literature of their choice.

Humorous Interpretation

  • Ian Etheridge, Cypress Lakes; and
  • Amelia Strickland, Jersey Village.

Humorous Interpretation highlights solo acting skills as students perform a 10-minute selection of literature appropriate for the genre that they have chosen and memorized.

The students are coached by Perry Beard at Cy-Fair, Ryan Powers at Cypress Creek, Miranda McDonald at Cypress Lakes, Tammi Raley at Cypress Springs, Lillian Adeyemi at Cypress Woods, Kristi Goemmer at Langham Creek and Regina Jennings at Jersey Village. 

Jennings also will be recognized by the NSDA with a Diamond Award at a ceremony celebrating outstanding speech and debate educators.

“Competing at NSDA Nationals is such an honor,” said Jennings, who graduated from Jersey Village in 2005 and competed for the speech and debate team as a student before taking over the program as its coach in 2011. “The speech and debate world is so competitive that even qualifying for nationals is an impressive feat. When students compete on the national level, they are truly competing against the best. This type of experience is unlike any other. It fosters a strength and a drive these students can use throughout their lives.”

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