The Germantown Academy speech and debate team hosted the final tournament of the season on February 8 for the Southern Pennsylvania Debate League (SPDL). Students have participated this fall and winter in a series of meets leading up to the final. This is the first time that GA has hosted a debate tournament, and teammates turned out to welcome visitors from other schools and cheer on their team. Winston Sun ’25, Jazziah Manning ’25, Ishaan Paladugu ‘25, and Yash Kandanuru ’25 all competed.
For this tournament, sophomore Helen Liang '25 received first place in oral interpretation of literature. She had devised a new poetry selection recently, as students must present both poetry and prose. Her student coach is Aisosa Idahosa ’23, who has competed frequently and has a solid record having won PHSSL Districts and making it to finals at National qualifiers last year.
"We are so proud of Helen," said faculty advisor and Upper School Latin teacher Pippa Vanderstar. "Helen worked recently with Upper School performing arts teacher Emma Hearn '14 to finesse the acting aspects of her program. Helen truly is one of our stars, a fine speaker with leadership potential." A concert pianist outside of debate, Helen reflects expressionism and artistic maturity in her speech pieces.
The GA Public Forum team of Aiden Swartz '25 and Utsav Mittal '25 were also champions of their event and went 6-0 on ballots. A stalwart pair, they have worked together for the past year and a half. They did well last year, coming in third at PHSSL Districts, and then taking first place at SPDL.
"Aiden is emerging as a valued leader of the team and helps develop the cases on the monthly topics," said Vanderstar. "He is also a fine tennis player, and I’m sure his sense of finesse and prowess on the court flows over into his showmanship in the debate room.” Utsav and Aiden are preparing two freshmen teams for upcoming tournaments at Harvard and PHSSL Districts. Go Patriots!