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MPA Debate Dominates the Competition

On December 1-2, 2023, the MPA debate team took home the gold with a history-making achievement at the Classic State Debate Festival at Two Rivers High School. Not only did debaters Victoria Lin and Ash Klann win the entire Novice division, ending with a 7-1 record and a 3-0 vote from the judges in the final round, but Varsity debaters Ben Murr and Akshay Somayajula also accomplished the herculean task of staying undefeated the entire tournament and winning their own Varsity division in the final round against another formidable MPA team, Annika Binstadt and Zoya Nayak. Landing second place in the Junior Varsity division, Greta Hanson and Rowan Mulrooney fought well to the very end.  

However, MPA wasn’t done just yet. For the first time in school history, Mounds Park won the team sweepstakes award, which recognizes the most outstanding performance at state (based on the top two performances of each division for every team). Furthermore, the varsity debaters were awarded with the Challenge Cup, an award that highlights the best varsity team focusing on their all-season performance. Finally, four students, Meiran Carlson, Maggie Banks-Hehenberger, Akshay Somayajula, and Ben Murr, were crowned with all-state debate honors for their notability throughout the year in debate. 

When asked about her experience with debate, Lin (novice state champion) says she loves the “professional environment to argue” and how much she gets to learn about the topics she debates. Meanwhile, her partner, Klann, reports that the best part is the team itself and how encouraging and helpful everyone is. Additionally, Katie Murr, an MPA debate coach, preaches the countless benefits debate can bring to students, spanning from critical thinking and speaking skills to learning how to work as a team and persist through challenging obstacles. Luckily, these benefits are reaching many high schoolers at Mounds Park as a whopping total of 95 students participated in the debate team this year. Perhaps just as impressive, almost half of them (45) decided to go the extra mile and represent MPA at the state tournament. 

Mounds Park Academy doesn’t do things halfway when it comes to debate, and the Classic State Debate Festival was no exception. Congratulations to all who debated for the success and excellence that emanated from this tournament. Further regards to the coaches, Katie Murr, Mike Vergin, Ellie Quam, and Meg Wilkening, for their hard work and dedication. 

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Lucy Mayer, Staff Writer
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