Mr. Speaker, as the 2017–2018 school year came to a close, the Spring Woods High School Speech and Debate Team concluded another successful year with a strong performance at the National Speech and Debate Association’s National Tournament in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Two members of the team logged notable performances in Florida.

Anahi Torres, a senior, advanced to the semi-finals of the Prose Interpretation. Coming off of a 3rd place finish at the state tournament, junior Hunter Brown rose above the field to qualify for the finals of the Congressional Debate. In the finals, he rose to speak on proposed legislation addressing the U.S. Navy, oversight of the Justice Department, and other topical issues. 

He ultimately placed 13th, earning him the right to return to Nationals next year as a senior. Success at the national and state level has long been a part of Spring Woods Speech and Debate team history. 

This year marked the 18th time Spring Woods appeared at Nationals, and Brown’s performance this past June made it seven consecutive years that Spring Woods has advanced to the final round of the Congressional Debate at this particular tournament. 

The team has qualified for the University Interscholastic League State (UIL) tournament for the past 11 years, boasting UIL state champions and finalists during this period. Currently, SWHS is ranked 10th in the state of Texas for qualifications at the Texas Forensic Association’s State Tournament, and at this year’s tournament, SWHS had quarter- finalists, semi-finals, and finalists.

It is often said that a team takes on the personality of the head coach. No statement could be truer for the SWHS debate team. Under the phenomenal leadership of Victoria Beard, director of Forensics at SWHS for the past 13 years, the team has not only put in impressive performances at local, state, and national tournaments, but also provided valuable skills to its members. 

The students experience gained through the tournaments and the long, arduous hours of practice balanced between studying for AP exams and finals pays off after graduation. Quite literally, as many Spring Woods debaters earn full scholarships to prestigious institutions around the country such as Yale, George Washington, and the University of Texas.

This past spring, a SWHS alum and former debater, Christian Rice, gave the commencement address at Yale. The other speaker that day—former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Speaker, as a proud graduate of Springwoods Senior High School and a former member of the debate team myself, it is my honor to recognize the debate teams hard work and achievements. Congratulations to all who took part this year, and may there be many more that follow in your footsteps in the future. 

And that is just the way it is.