SEM debate team’s 6th-place finish at state UIL a rare accomplishment

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Student debaters from the School of Science and Engineering (SEM) made history on March 16 by landing what their coach calls a rare position by placing at the UIL state tournament.

They are now preparing to compete at the national level for the second year in a row.

The team comprising students Olivia Northcutt-Wyly and Sophie Rahman placed sixth in the Cross Examination category among 6A schools. Their team and another featuring students Juan Diaz and Storm Lasseter, both made the Sweet 16 in the competition – also a first. Lasseter was also awarded the “golden gavel” for being the top individual debater in the state.

Debate coach Mary Gregg said the students meet an hour each week after school to practice and take time on weekends debating other district schools at local competitions.

“SEM Debate was a small club four years ago. Today, the debate team is one of the top programs in the state,” Gregg said. “These debaters proved this weekend that Dallas students can keep up with any debate team in the state.”

The club got to that level with students balancing an all Advanced Placement course load, during which the team members also find time to mentor younger debaters. Next month, they will travel to the National Urban Debate Championships in Washington, D.C.

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