PCDS Speech & Debate Team wins back-to-back state titles

Phoenix Country Day School Speech & Debate team (submitted photo)

Phoenix Country Day School Speech & Debate team (submitted photo)

The Phoenix Country Day School Upper School Speech & Debate Team won its second state championship in as many years this past weekend at Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson.

Thirty PCDS Upper School students started their spring break by competing in the event. After two days of competition in over 15 different events, the team was crowned back-to-back state champions in speech and debate, according to a press release.

Last year, PCDS won the championship by defeating former three-time state champions from Catalina Foothills by 11 points; this year, the team defeated Catalina Foothills once again, this time by 62 points. Twenty-two schools competed in the tournament, some of which had student enrollment of up to 1800 students — PCDS has 283 students in its high school.

PCDS seniors Jillian Gilburne and Oliver Marsden each won individual championships in Original Oratory and Humorous Interpretation categories, respectively. Individual championships were also won by juniors William Porter (Congressional Debate category) and Parker Whitfill (Extemporaneous Speaking category), sophomores Grace Elsie and Madison Stringer (Duo Interpretation category) and Olivia Najafi (Dramatic Interpretation category).

The team will compete next weekend for a return trip to the National Speech & Debate Tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah to take place in June.

“When I started at PCDS as a part-time coach, those seniors were the pieces that we were looking to build an incredible team around,” stated Speech & Debate Coach Nick Klemp, in the release. “They’ve worked and sacrificed so much to help this team grow and are truly the cornerstones of our success. We never expected to compete at state so quickly, but they’ve been instrumental in leading us to back-to-back championships.”

Since 1961, Phoenix Country Day School has been the Valley’s only nonprofit, private, independent day school for students in grades pre-kindergarten through grade 12, all on a single campus in Paradise Valley. It emphasizes high academics and both extra and co-curricular activities, including academics, arts, and athletics, and as exemplified by the success of the Speech & Debate Team.

Coach Klemp with seniors Jason Greenfield, left, Jillian Gilburne, middle, and Oliver Marsden on right. (submitted photo)

Coach Klemp with seniors Jason Greenfield, left, Jillian Gilburne, middle, and Oliver Marsden on right. (submitted photo)

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