SEM Super Debaters

Roland Parrish Scholarship Debate

Juan Diaz and Sophie Rahman won the first inaugural Roland Parrish Scholarship Debate on January 29, 2019 at James Madison High School. They successfully convinced three judges that America’s electoral college system ought to be abandoned in favor of a popular vote. Both debaters will win $5,000 in scholarship prizes from Mr. Parrish, in partnership with DISD. Congratulations to our colleagues from Irma Rangel, who won second place. To qualify, Juan and Sophie were the first place team at the Dallas Fall City Championship.

SEM Debaters Attend Michelle Obama Tour

Sem Debaters Attend Michelle Obama Tour

On December 17, SEM debaters attended the Michelle Obama Becoming Tour. We got to hear the former first lady discuss the Presidency, politics, and pursuing your dreams. What an inspiring presentation! The debaters were extra excited because one of our own was featured on the American Airlines Jumbotron at the end of the show.

Attached is a photo of Ms. Zhuge and the debaters that attended with their Michelle Obama books. It’s not the best quality because it was dark outside the venue, but you can see all the smiling faces!  

~Ms Gregg

Dallas Urban Debate Alliance Fall City Championship

Dallas Urban Debate Alliance Fall City Championship 02
Dallas Urban Debate Alliance Fall City Championship 01

The SEM debaters, Ms. Zhuge, and Ms Gregg attended the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance Fall City Championship at Conrad. In addition to the usual championship, this event had $15,000 in scholarship prizes available to the top team from two different schools. While SEM had the top 2 varsity teams, only our top placing team will compete for the scholarship prizes in an exhibition debate in January. They will face the third placed team, Irma Rangel. Both SEM teams had undefeated records, and the tie for first was broken by only 2 speaker points.

I also want to give special recognition to our new Junior Varsity debaters – our novices moved to JV after only one semester of debate and were ranked ahead of competitors that have been debating for 1-3 years. Also thank you to Olivia Northcutt-Wyly, who did not compete but attended to coach our younger debaters and judge rounds.

First place team: Juan Diaz (second year winning) and Sophie Rahman
Second place team: Storm Lasseter and Benjamin Hernandez
First place speaker: Sophie Rahman
Second place speaker: Storm Lasseter
Sixth place speaker: Juan Diaz

First place team: Jacob Gonzalez and Maanas Sharma
Seventh place team: Nelda Hernandez and Miles Grossman
First place speaker: Maanas Sharma
Second place speaker: Jacob Gonzalez
Seventh place speaker: Blaine Wells
Ninth place speaker: Reagan Hickox

Third place team: Priyanka Bhasi and Sebastian Hernandez
Fourth place team: Ishaan Gadiyar and Feven Kidanu
Fourth place speaker: Ishaan Gadiyar
Eighth place speaker: Priyanka Bhasi
Ninth place speaker: Feven Kidanu
Tenth place speaker: Camille Johnson

SEM Debate Brings it Home Again!

Dallas Urban Debate Alliance Tournament 2

Congratulations to Ms Gregg and the SEM Debate Team. This past weekend, they attended the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance Tournament 2. Here are the results:


1st place team – Storm Lasseter/Olivia Northcutt-Wyly

2nd place team (also undefeated) – Sophie Rahman/Benjamin Hernandez

1st place speaker – Olivia

2nd place speaker – Storm

4th place speaker – Sophie


1st place team – Justin Edwards/Michael Abasebet

2nd place team (also undefeated) – Feven Kidanu/Ishaan Gadiyar

7th place team – Shreewisha Pokhrel/Camille Johnson

10th place team – Jacob Gonzalez/Manaas Sharma

3rd place speaker – Justin Edwards

2nd place speaker – Camille Johnson

Come see the trophies in the office!

Debate Wins First Place at Conrad

Debate Tournament At Conrad

At the first tournament, held October 6 at Conrad, we won first place!


1st place team – Storm Lasseter/Olivia Northcutt-Wyly

2nd place team (also undefeated) – Juan Diaz/Sophie Rahman

1st place speaker – Olivia

2nd place speaker – Sophie

3rd place speaker – Storm

5th place speaker – Juan


1st place team – Manaas and Jacob

3rd place team – Vrinda Varada/Sneha Chandak

4th place team – Michael and Justin

5th place team – Feven and Ishaan

8th place team – Xavier Moreno and Nelda Hernandez

SEM novices won 6 of the top 10 individual awards, including Manaas in 1st and Justin in 2nd


10th place team – Reagan Hickox and Blaine Wells

4th place speaker – Blaine Wells

Debate Team Makes State History

SEM Debate competed at the UIL CX debate state tournament March 17, 2018. Please help me congratulate the following students on their accomplishments:

Storm Lasseter won the golden gavel, which is awarded to the top individual speaker in the state. This award is usually won by a senior, and Storm beat out over one hundred other students.

Sophie Rahman and Olivia Northcutt-Wyly became the first team from DISD in decades to place. Sophie and Olivia won all of their preliminary debates (including beating Coppell, a very competitive team) and won sixth place.

Storm Lasseter and Juan Diaz made the octafinals (sweet sixteen).

This is the first time any school from Dallas has had two teams in the top sixteen, and the first time a team of two girls from Dallas has placed.

Prior to state, SEM placed second place at the varsity city championships, qualifying Sophie and Olivia to nationals for the second year. We will be going to Washington, DC to represent Dallas at the National Association of Urban Debate League Nationals. Olivia was first place individual speaker, Sophie was second, and Benjamin Hernandez was fifth. Olivia has won the top individual award at every Dallas meet this year.

Thank you for your continued support of the debate team – next up is novice/JV city championships.

— Mary Gregg

DUDA Winter Tournament

Duda Winter Tournament Debate Team

On January 27, 2018, SEM debate competed at the first winter DUDA tournaments. This was a great weekend for the team – most novices debated in the Junior Varsity level for the first time, and we fielded a new Varsity partnership with Olivia Northcutt-Wyly and Juan Diaz. Mr. Palacios was able to come by after magnet testing and support the students!



15th place speaker – John Ramos


  • 2nd place speaker – Renee Merrick
  • 11th place speaker – Sravani Boggaram
  • 8th place team – Vanessa Vasquez and Isra Alinur


  • 1st place team – Olivia Northcutt-Wyly and Juan Diaz
  • 1st place speaker – Olivia Northcutt-Wyly
  • 4th place speaker – Juan Diaz

Thank you to Leslie Jaramillo for producing this write up and serving as our team historian.

Next up – Varsity City Championships/National Qualifiers and UIL state.

SEM Debaters qualify for State

Debate Team State Qualifier 2018
Photo: Olivia Northcutt-Wyly (Soph), Sophie Rahman (Jr.), Juan Diaz (Jr.), Storm Lasseter (Jr.)

January 14, 2018, six SEM debaters competed at the UIL state qualifying tournament. Please help me congratulate Sophie Rahman and Olivia Northcutt-Wyly who won first place and qualified to state for the second year in a row. Also qualifying is Storm Lasseter and Juan Diaz, who won second place at the district competition. SEM beat out teams from TAG, Law Magnet, Irma Rangel, Garza, and other 6A schools to earn both spots.

Our third team, Benjamin Hernandez and Eduardo Heyer, lost only one debate round, and had a fantastic showing. Both Benjamin and Eduardo stuck around to coach their teammates to victory – thanks guys!

Our four debaters will be attending UIL state over spring break in Austin. Thank you for your continued support of the debate team. Next up – city championships and the qualifying tournament for nationals.

Debate Fall City Championships 2017

On December 1st and 2nd, the SEM Novice and Varsity debaters attended the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance Fall City Championship at Thomas Jefferson High School. Listed below are the awards:

Individual Awards:


  • 1st place Novice: Donovan Rodgers
  • 11th place Novice: John Ramos
  • 12th place Novice: Vanessa Vasquez


  • 1st place Varsity: Olivia Northcutt- Wyly
  • 2nd place Varsity: Storm Lasseter
  • 3rd place Varsity: Sophie Rahman
  • 4th place Varsity: Benjamin Hernandez
  • 8th place Varsity: Juan Diaz

Team Awards:


  • 10th place Novice: Jennifer Granados and John Ramos
  • 11th place Novice: Isra Alinur and Vanessa Vasquez
  • 12th place Novice: Sravani and Katelyn Candido


  • 1st place Varsity: Storm Lasseter and Juan Diaz
  • 3rd place Varsity: Olivia Northcutt- Wyly and Sophie Rahman
  • Also competing was Benjamin Hernandez who debated well enough for elimination debates but was excluded because he debated without a partner.

Please Congratulate all of our hard working debaters on an amazing Tournament!

Thank you to everyone for all the hard work and dedication. Go eagles!