By Stacey Bomser
Falcon Cove Middle School is quickly earning a reputation as a speech and debate powerhouse school. The fledgling program started just four years ago, and the trophy case is already filled with dozens of awards.
According to Debate Advisor Jennifer Daily, “This is the fourth year of the Falcon Cove Middle School Debate program, which is made up of only eighth graders. It’s the second year in which sixth and seventh graders are able to join the Speech program.”
In addition to helping students develop public speaking, critical thinking and listening skills, the speech and debate courses create knowledgeable and worldly students. Local, national and world politics are often discussed during class.
The curriculum also includes learning the various types of speech (extemporaneous and original oratory) and debate (Congress, Lincoln Douglas, and Public Forum). “The students go over every event in class and then get to decide which event they want to participate in,” explains Ms. Daily. “If they don’t like the event they chose, they can choose a different one for the next tournament.”
To prepare for competition, students conduct research and work with other students in the same event to practice their speeches and cases. Ms. Daily says members of Cypress Bay High School’s nationally-ranked Debate Club often mentor the middle school students. “They come over as often as possible to work one-on-one with the Falcon Cove students.”
Ms. Daily says about 40 of the students enrolled in the Debate and Speech courses compete in monthly tournaments, which are typically held afterschool or on Saturdays. Falcon Cove has had a successful start to this year’s season.
The school won 13 medals from its first tournament. Esha Jain and Beatriz Navas each earned medals in Congress. Mahathi Konda, Sean Behling and Tanish Bandre medaled in Lincoln Douglas Debate. Andrew Grub, Gregory Cohen, Colin Morrill and Mateo Aristizabal all placed in Public Forum debate. Sara Faruqui and Stefano De Castro received awards for Extemporaneous speaking, while Tess Segal and Ana-Victoria Gomez won in Original Oratory.
Falcon Cove took home 17 medals from its second tournament. Gabriela Charry won for Congress. In Lincoln Douglas debate, Tanish Bandre, Mahathi Konda, Jordana Kotler, and Shana Xia all received medals. Public Forum debate wins went to Grace Baek and Priya Khatri, Gregory Cohen and Sean Behling, Lauren Kotler and Sofia Guttmann, as well as Emmett Rosenblum and Jonathan Cohen. In Original Oratory speech, Stefano De Castro, Mia Chacon, Ana-Victoria Gomez, and Allison Fintz all won medals.