Thomas Jefferson High School’s (TJHS) World Schools Debate team finished 45th out of 200 teams. Photo courtesy of Federal Way Public Schools

Thomas Jefferson High School’s (TJHS) World Schools Debate team finished 45th out of 200 teams. Photo courtesy of Federal Way Public Schools

Thomas Jefferson High School speech and debate team wins national awards

Four Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) scholars and one assistant coach took home awards from the recent Speech and Debate Nationals held June 16–23 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

There are about 150,000 national speech and debate members in the nation and abroad. Of these, 5,000 members qualify for nationals and make up teams who compete in the “World Schools Debate.” This year, Thomas Jefferson High School’s (TJHS) World Schools Debate team finished 45th out of 200 teams. The team included Skyler Yesiltepe, Maria Thompson, and Cade Homfeldt, along with two competitors from Kingston High School who were part of the same team. Out of the 21 years that TJHS has competed in nationals, this is the best they have placed.

Thomas Jefferson’s Hakeem Shibly placed seventh in the nation out of 500 contestants in impromptu speaking. Hakeem was a semifinalist and only one point shy of being a finalist.

“Speech and debate has taught me a range of things, from how to literally speak in front of people and not get nervous, to how to be myself,” Hakeem said. “This lesson on self-improvement has helped me in every facet of my life, and moving forward, I feel it is probably the most valuable skill I have learned in high school.”

Assistant Coach Meykia Smith earned an Outstanding Contributor award for her dedication to Congressional Debate at TJHS, and also in the Western Washington National Speech and Debate Association District.

“The quality of your ideas is second only to your ability to communicate them,” said Andrew Buchan, Thomas Jefferson Speech and Debate Coach. “Competitive speech and debate gives students the skill set to articulate their ideas and a platform to use their voice in a powerful way.”


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