Langley Speech and Debate takes on UPENN!

Langley High School Debate Team planning to head to University of Pennsylvania to compete


Speech team members gathered for a group photo.

Ellis Sitilides , Reporter

Over the weekend of February 8th through the 10th, the Langley High School Speech and Debate team traveled to the well-known ivy-league school, The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) for a weekend competition. Heavily planned and coordinated by both the club officers and 10th grade English teacher, Coach Mr. Gifford Krivak, the competition turned out to be an amazing opportunity for the Langley JV and Varsity teams to go up against some of the best high school debaters in the country.


As the coach of the team for a multitude of seasons, Krivak has watched many speech competitors and debaters grow and events like UPenn let the coach truly see that.

“I love seeing the students progress, work on their ideas and their craft, and just seeing them develop from the beginning of the season to the end,” Coach Krivak said, explaining how the UPenn Competition lets him understand the true potential of his students.


Even though the competition was not one that could advance the team in the VHSL regional and state competitions, the members and officers prepared with much diligence. With each member either strategically conducting their arguments or endlessly rehearsing their speeches for the event, Langley was bound for a successful weekend.  


“We prepared by practicing a lot,” sophomore and speech competitor Areej Khatri said. Khatri and her partner sophomore, Zoe Hendricks participated in Duo Interpretation. “Since duo requires memorization of a ten-minute piece, we needed to get our lines down as best as possible,” Khatri said.  

“The experience was great, we were really able to bond with our team in a way that we normally do not have the opportunity to. But the competition was significantly more intense than our regional tournaments,” Vice President of the Speech Team, Senior, Grace Smith said.


Many of Langley’s debaters and speech competitors placed at the competition, including juniors Chris Cumberbatch and Evan Flick, who made the octo-finals in the Junior Varsity Public Forum debate. Seniors, Adam Dawer and Reza Zaidi finished 99th place out of 300 competitors in the Varsity Public Forum debate. Sophomore, Lucy Chen made it to the octo-finals of the Junior Varsity Lincoln Douglas debate, and junior, Armin Bagha worked up to the double-finals in the Junior Varsity Lincoln Douglas debate.


On the speech side, seniors and club officers Grace Smith and Devika Puri ranked 13 out of 37 in Duo Interpretation.  Zoe Hendricks and Areej Khatri ranked 14, while seniors, Marisa Mahori and Reyna Yang ranked 20 in Duo Interpretation.