TA News

High School Debate Team Earns Accolades at State Tournament

Thetford Academy’s high school debate team had an exciting day at the Vermont State Tournament on Sunday. The event, briefly delayed due to the region’s spring snowstorm, was hosted at St. Michael’s College in Burlington, VT and featured seven different schools from across the region. The delay was just the first wrench thrown by the weather – another came on Sunday morning, when one of the team’s senior members was stymied by slippery road conditions.

With team member Finn Liland out for the day, TA had to manage without “his oratory skills and good humor,” and find a way to be flexible in the moment. They called in junior Elijah Renner, who gamely joined the event at the last minute – making it possible for all three Thetford Academy teams to compete.

This was TA’s first year of competition with the new debate club, and their hard work over the season showed on Sunday. In the tournament’s novice category, Wendell Durham and Daniel Mann earned an admirable second place finish. Oliver Yukica and Brady Sloop’s team made it to the semifinals to face tough opponents from Colchester and secured a semifinalist trophy. Oliver Yukica also placed 4th overall for speaker points.

Deservedly, the adults had some wins, too, with TA’s team mentor Radha Bhatnagar named the Vermont Debate & Forensic League’s Volunteer of the Year, and coaches Kristen Downey and Hanover High School Corin Benedict shared the honor of Coach of the Year.

Finally, the Vermont Debate & Forensics League awards the David Gale Memorial Scholarship each year to a graduating senior, an honor recognizing Gale’s 50 years as a winning coach for Otter Valley. TA senior Oliver Yukica was named this year’s winner, with award facilitator coach Nick Schramm sharing these words about Oliver’s application essay: “His essay was a wonderful account of his and Thetford’s journey to the VDFL, his passion which sparked that journey, the lifelong connections he’s made, and the pure love of debate he’s found from that journey. Well deserved!”

Congratulations to Thetford Academy’s debate team for their outstanding inaugural season!



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