The Tempe Preparatory Academy Speech and Debate team took its seventh consecutive state championship in AIA Division 1/2/3A on March 17 at Winslow High School. Team Captains Paxton Attridge, Kelsey Coriell and James Qian are ranked by the National Forensic League as the Number 1, 3 and 4 leading students in Arizona for Speech and Debate.

Tempe Prep Speech and Debate Coach John Wolnisty credits the teams winning streak to a group of dedicated students who work year round to excel at this activity. Although Tempe Prep has only 205 high school students, the Speech and Debate team regularly competes, and beats, some of the largest schools in the state.

“The key to this year’s state victory was teamwork,” Wolnisty said. “While there were individual standouts, it was the way the team pulled together and helped each other that made this state win special.”

In addition, four Tempe Prep students qualified to compete at the National Forensics League National Tournament to be held in Indianapolis this June. Only three students in each event qualify to attend the National Tournament from the entire state and the finalists are normally dominated by the large 5A schools. Jimmy Qian and Lyubov Kapko qualified in International Extemporaneous Speaking, and Tempe residents, Paxton Attridge and Issac Miller, qualified together in Duo Interpretation.

Speech and Debate is an extracurricular activity at Tempe Prep, meaning the students prepare and practice all on their own time, rather than in a regular class period. That is no easy task given the legendary academic workload that TPA students

have. “Combine that with college applications and their senior thesis,” Wolnisty said, “the seniors on the team have worked especially hard for this year’s win.

(March 2012)