ETHS Speech and Debate students held a public forum debate during a school day in the fall for freshmen history and art classes. ETHS students (from left) Honor Allen, Allison Grimsted, Gabriel Hull and Nina Kaushikkar debated the topic of the Columbian Exchange and Colonialism and answered questions from students in the audience.Submitted photo

Evanston Township High School’s Speech and Debate team has grown to 86 students this year and has continued to find success at the highest levels. Junior Chirasree Mandal and senior Danny Frank-Siegel earned Evanston’s first bid to the Tournament of Champions (TOC) at the University of Kentucky for Policy Debate in more than 30 years.

 In addition, junior Oliver Brady and senior Honor Allen are fully qualified to the TOC in Public Forum Debate and have advanced to elimination rounds at all four national tournaments they attended this school year. ETHS juniors Gigi Wade and Isabelle Bavis (Public Forum) and senior Allison Grimsted (Congressional Debate) have also earned bids to the TOC.

“Our team is on pace to qualify a record high number of speech students to the NCFL National Championship, and we will be taking a competitive team to the IHSA Regional tournament in February,” remarked ETHS Speech and Debate coach Jeff Hannan.

Mr. Hannan also noted that as participation in speech and debate has increased at ETHS, awareness continues to grow, and students build connections with the school and the community. In January for example, ETHS will be hosting a Big Questions Debate, where students from ETHS classes will be able to explore the intersection of science and philosophy in a public debate setting. The team also hosted public debates in the fall for freshmen humanities and arts classes, exposing freshmen to speech and debate and strengthening their connections to their curriculum.

“As we grow in numbers, we also move towards better reflecting the ETHS student body,” Mr. Hannan added. This year, 40% of ETHS Speech and Debate students are students of color and 55% identify as female.

Earlier this school year, an article about sexism and debate was published in The Washington Post by Anna Waters, a former speech and debate coach at ETHS. She interviewed Mr. Hannan and a number of female debaters, including Isabelle and Gigi, to shed light on gender perceptions in debate.