Ardrey Kell High School’s Speech and Debate Team means business.
The team has a national reputation. They’ve won the state championship five times in a row, with plans on making it six. They’ve earned a Top 5 in the National Catholic Forensic League Grand National Tournament. Many students are nationally ranked, including some students who were ranked first in the nation.
And they say it’s all about the commitment.
The team travels about once a month to national competitions all over the country, including in Chicago, Yale, Harvard and California.
“Ardrey Kell is definitely really well known across the nation,” said President of the Team Samhitha Sunkara, who is ranked current third in the nation. “If you say the name, ‘Ardrey Kell,’ a lot of competitors are really scared they’re about to go up against a kid from our school.”
Chris Harrow, the team’s adviser, said his goal is provide students the opportunities to not only excel locally in North Carolina, but also experience and excel at speech and debate across the country.
“They have been very successful the past couple years at reaching that goal, which is super exciting,” Harrow said.
Harrow said something he’s proud of AK’s team is not only the students’ individual success, but also having a level of consistency to earn team awards locally and nationally.
The coach attributes the team’s success to the students’ passion for the activity. He describes their commitment to taking another class, as students devote hours to research and interpretation to prepare for competitions.
The hobby does come with a hefty price tag, as students have to pay their way to national competitions, but Harrow is hoping to help ease that burden.
To raise funds, AK will host The Steven Davis Invitational on Feb. 25 at the school, which will include 12 categories and the Carolina West District Congress. Schools can sign up for the tournament through Feb. 21 and can contact Harrow at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.