RGV, Tip of Texas, Houston triumph at 2017 Texas Great Debate
The 2017 Texas Great Debate results are in, and two familiar rivals and top-performing teams — the Rio Grande Valley and Tip of Texas — finished first and second respectively, with Houston finishing in third place.
Some of the winning students — particularly from the Silver Cup-winning RGV team — knew of the Texas Great Debate from family members who’d experienced earlier editions of the program.
“Having had four older siblings go through the program, the positive experience that NHI gave them is what sparked my interest in NHI since I was little,” said Alyssa Yarritu, who won first place in cross examination. “As we went through training these past few months, the friendships I developed and my newfound passion for debate are what inspired me to continue with the program.”
Students stuck with the program to become better public speakers, to develop new friendships, or simply to honor the commitments they made when recruited, but then found the lessons they learned — and the allure of the competition — to be powerful and even life-changing.
“My Great Debate experience was just absolutely amazing,” said Sarah Sandoval, a first-place oratory champion from the Dallas team. “Out of it, I took growth. I gained new amazing friends that I will forever cherish. I now have a new way of thinking, to never hold back and always take advantage of an opportunity. I am so thankful to this program for everything it had to offer me.”
Asked whether she’d go on to participate in LDZ, she proclaimed, “The Great Debate was just too amazing to not experience another NHI program. It’d be too hard for me to stay away, to start off and not continue. I look forward to discovering what this next program will throw at me, to gain new friends, and allow my skills to grow.”
The Texas Great Debate competition was close and hard-fought on among the top teams.
“We didn’t think we won,” admitted Gianfranco Laddaga, from RGV’s first-place Mock Trial team. “We thought we were going to end up as runner-up. But when they announced Tip of Texas as runner-up, everyone partied in their seats, we were in awe, we were astounded that we made it. I was so happy that we were able to make our region and our coaches proud, of course we knew they were already proud, but we did what was asked of us when we joined NHI, which made the experience so much better.”
Even though experiencing victory was sweet, Laddaga noted, “I think the best thing that came out of NHI was the bond our team shares. We started out as strangers, people who thought nothing of the person next to them. Now, we’re all such a close family, all of us love each other and I feel I can say this for the whole team, we wouldn’t change anything or anyone about us.”
Winning students included:
Hannah Edelstein, Tip of Texas; Christian Gonzalez, Austin
Alyssa Yarritu and Cassandra Garza, RGV; Mariajose Arredondo and Anna Diez, TIP
Carlos Garcia, RGV; Sarah Sandoval, Dallas
Kinnereth Serrano and Meghan Si, Houston; Ivana Guajardo and Gianfranco Ladagga, RGV
The 2017 Texas Great Debate program was made possible in part by sponsorship from State Farm, Union Pacific, and Winston & Strawn LLP.