PCDS middle school speech & debate shines at Columbia University

The PCDS Middle School Speech & Debate team. (submitted photo)

During January, the defending National Champion Phoenix Country Day School Middle School Speech & Debate team competed at the Columbia University High School Speech & Debate Tournament in New York City, featuring competitors from over 120 high schools from 25 states and four countries.

The PCDS Middle School team received a special invitation to be the only team of middle school students to compete at the tournament, according to a press release.

After two days of grueling events, with the 25 PCDS Middle School students competing against 17- and 18-year olds from some of the nation’s top high school debate programs, the results were undeniable:

  • 15 of the PCDS students advanced to elimination rounds; and
  • Two PCDS Middle School students finished at or near the top in their respective events.

PCDS eighth grader Yash Wadwekar was crowned overall champion in the Prose and Poetry event, beating a senior from Bronx Science High School — a top-ranked public school in the country.

Additionally, PCDS eighth grader Alexander Ashman finished national runner-up in the original oratory event.

“This was a truly remarkable experience for our team,” PCDS Middle School Speech & Debate coach, Ryan Joyce said in a prepared statement.

“We were honored to receive the invitation to compete at this event, and we hoped for it to be a learning experience for our young team— to see how some of the country’s best high school students prepare and compete at the next level. But, I am so proud of our students for their hard work and ability to step up to this next challenge.”

Founded in 1961 in Paradise Valley, Phoenix Country Day School is a private, independent school.

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