The success of the 2017 – 2018 Westwood High School Speech and Debate Team continues as the team was recently ranked amongst the top 10 in the nation by the National Speech and Debate Association.

The program is ranked in the top 1 percent of 3,500 high school programs and, along with their ranking, earned membership in the prestigious Lucky 7 Society, which recognizes programs that display a commitment to developing lifelong skills in communication, research, listening, writing and organization.

The team prepared for and attended over 30 local, district, regional, state, national and international tournaments and competitions. To get ready for another record season, the team focused on working together to embark on rigorous practice. It’s something the team prides themselves on as they use their ability to work as a team to their advantage.

Beyond practice, another factor they attribute to their success is the mentoring that takes place between upperclassmen and newer members of the team.

“The way that our upperclassmen mentor novices is very personal and individualized, which is why our debaters start more prepared and with a stronger team ethic than most freshmen,” Ruishi Wang, Westwood speech and debate teacher said. “Our incredibly driven students don’t hesitate to dedicate the necessary time and effort that being successful in a debate requires. The reflection and thoughtful improvement methods that we encourage our debaters to use during class and after school practices take our team to the next level and have shown us positive results.”

The top 10 ranking by the National Speech and Debate Association was one of many accolades during their successful year. Last school year, as a team, they earned over 20 bids to the Tournament of Champions, which is the most prestigious qualifying national-level tournament in the country. They also received the Lanny Naegelin award for having the most state qualifiers from any high school from Texas in the past decade.

The new competition year brings new goals for the team. They plan on continuing their success by expanding on their core of teamwork, rigorous practice and creating opportunities.

“A continued goal that we always strive towards is to be constantly growing our team and cultivating a stronger sense of team spirit, inclusivity, and community building,” Wang said. “By increasing competition opportunities for our debaters and reorganizing some structural logistics, we hope to make sure that all of our debaters are performing at their full potential and our team is the best that it can be.”