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!

DUDA Season Opener – All 3 Teams Undefeated

Duda Season Opener Debate Team 2017

This weekend the debate team attended the DUDA season opener, where they competed against students from all over Dallas. It was a great weekend for the Eagles – wining the top 3 places in varsity is unprecedented, and even more impressive when you consider that all of the SEM debaters are sophomores or juniors. All 3 SEM teams were undefeated, and the tie was broken with individual speaker points. We had big wins against Woodrow Wilson (defending city champion), Law Magnet, and Irma Rangel.

Duda Season Opener Awards 2017

If you see these students, please congratulate them – trophies are on display in the office. The large photo shows of most of the team, and the one above is of our varsity champions. Thanks to our team historian, Leslie Jaramillo, for coming out to cover the team, and our assistant coach, Ms. Zhuge for being awesome and giving up her Saturday to help coach these talented debaters.



  • 1st place Speaker Award: Olivia Northcutt- Wyly
  • 2nd place Speaker Award: Storm Lasseter
  • 5th place Speaker Award: Sophie Rahman
  • 1st place Team Award: Sophie Rahman & Olivia Northcutt- Wyly
  • 2nd place Team Award: Ethan Helfman & Juan Diaz
  • 3rd place Team Award: Storm Lasseter & Akshay Jaitly


  • 1st place Speaker Award: Jacob Joseph
  • 3rd place Speaker Award: Rohan Cherukuru
  • 6th place Team Award: Isra Alinur & Vanessa Vasquez
  • 9th place Team Award: Jacob Joseph & Jennifer Granados
  • 14th place Team Award: Katelyn Candido & Stephanie Torres


  • 4th place Team Award: Mariam Joseph & Oziel De La Fuente