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Jordan Wins State Debate Championship

Persuasive young debaters from Jordan High School have won the California State Speech and Debate Championship. Two of Jordan’s finest—juniors Louis Blackwell and Richard Funches—represented Jordan and the Southern California Debate League in last weekend’s statewide competition. They outperformed 1,000 of California’s best student speakers and 64 top high school debate teams from throughout the state. Blackwell and Funches each received a $500 scholarship, a large trophy and the Jordan team plaque. Besides winning the policy debate competition, Jordan took second place in the overall sweepstakes. Of the teams advancing to the elimination rounds in debate, Jordan was the only public high school. All other advancing debate teams were from private schools. Although many of the top debaters were more experienced than Blackwell and Funches, the Jordan team won. The final debates were held April 29 through May 1 at Cal State Northridge. Teams in the final round argued the topic, "Resolved: the U.S. federal government should establish a foreign policy substantially increasing its support of U.N. peacekeeping operations." Teams had to prepare to take either the affirmative or negative side. Jordan was assigned the negative position. Based on research and analytical evidence, their job was to make persuasive points, refute their opponents’ position, think quickly and respond eloquently on their feet. Jordan speech and debate teacher Sandy Stoneman gave much of the credit to the two students and their volunteer debate coaches, Geof Brodak, a graduate student at CSULB, and David Wiltz, director of the Urban Debate League. Both were national debate champions. "I was impressed by our students’ desire to win," said Stoneman. "Our two outstanding debaters should do very well in national competition next year," said Wiltz. "After their recent state championship, many colleges are interested in them. They have a good chance of winning full-ride scholarships." Blackwell and Funches excelled in 10 prior competitions this school year. This is only the second year of debate experience for both. The Jordan team has depth with sophomore Gabby Thomas and junior Kenneth LeBlue. They took fifth place at the Nationals in Atlanta in the novice division April 22-24. Jordan’s Nina Centers and Kenny Gravino won first place in policy debate at the Spring Fling at CSU Fullerton. At the California State Speech and Debate Championship, Poly High School won second place in the Student Congress category. Team member Siodhbhra Parkin excelled in that event. Andrew Dunkley placed fifth in the state as Student Congress presiding officer. Their teacher is Brett Alexander.