Local Teens are National Champions in Public Forum Debate

National Champions in all Speech / Debate events - 3rd from Left Vedanth Ramabhadran, 4th from Left Omar Busaidy

National Champions in all Speech / Debate events – 3rd from Left Vedanth Ramabhadran, 4th from Left Omar Busaidy

HOUSTON: The National Debate & Speech Tournament has been held across the country since 1931, and today is one of the largest academic competitions in the world. Each year, more than 7,000 High school and Middle School students compete in a week-long competition to determine the national champion in a range of Speech and Debate events. The 2017 National Speech & Debate Tournament “Memories made in the Magic City” was held in Birmingham, Alabama.

Houston ISD’s Lanier Middle continued its long history of Speech and Debate performances and had over 40+ students that qualified for the National Tournament in 2017 under coach Franz Hill. Lanier Middle School finished in the Top 5 schools nationally for Speech as well as Debate. They also received the Overall School of Excellence award recognizing the Top 3 schools nationally.

Coach Franz Hill, Omar Busaidy, Vedanth Ramabhadran

Coach Franz Hill, Omar Busaidy, Vedanth Ramabhadran

Lanier Middle School’s Omar Busaidy and Vedanth Ramabhadran finished as the National Champions in the Public Forum debate event beating a team from Atlanta. They finished the Preliminary Rounds as the Top Seed and also took the Top 2 spots for individual speaker points in their event – an overall dominant performance. 2 out of the 4 semi finalist teams were from Lanier Middle School including the team of Andrew Sun and David Tang. 3 out of the 4 teams from Lanier made it to the Knockout rounds.

80 teams from around the country participated in the Public Forum debate at the national tournament debating the topic – “In East Africa, the United States federal government should prioritize its counterterrorism efforts over its humanitarian assistance.”

During the regular Middle School tournament season in Houston, Omar and Vedanth won 7 of the 9 tournaments and finished 2nd in the other two. They intend to continue their debate experience at Bellaire High School next year.

The proud parents, Busaidys live in Bellaire and Ramabhadrans live in the Energy Corridor.

INTERVIEW BOX: “I started participating in debate tournaments because I went to a camp and really liked it. While I started with Public Forum (PF) debate and I enjoyed Impromptu and Extemporaneous speaking as well. After making it to nationals in the 7th grade for PF, I decided to focus on PF debate in the 8th grade. That paid off and Omar and I were able to do well in multiple tournaments. We are thrilled that we won nationals and topped the speaker points. We are happy that we were able to continue the Lanier legacy. We couldn’t have done this without Coach Hill and the Lanier alumni coaches. The Lanier debate team was a constant source of encouragement for us. “ – VEDANTH RAMABHADRAN, 8th Grader at Lanier Middle School.