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Murrah High School wins State Championship in Policy Debate

 Murrah High School’s Speech & Debate team made a bit of history on Saturday. Despite plenty of success in recent years, including multiple national qualifiers, the Murrah team has never won a Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) State Championship in any event. Ever.


They’ve been close. In 2012, Justin Porter (also a two-time NSDA national qualifier in Public Forum Debate and now a student at Harvard) took second place in Extemporaneous Speaking. The next year, Graeme Campbell (a national qualifier in Policy Debate, currently at MIT) took second in Extemp. In 2014, Alliyah Taylor (three-time national qualifier in Policy and Extemp, now at Marist College) placed second in Impromptu Speaking. Just last year, Taylor and her partner, Lauren Allen, took second in Policy Debate.


That string of second-place trophies was finally topped off by a state championship this past weekend as Senior Lauren Allen and Junior Jose Navas defeated St. Andrew’s Episcopal School on a 2-1 decision in the final round of Policy Debate. The MHSAA State tournament was hosted by Ridgeland High School.


Other individual award-winners from Murrah at the State tournament were Shondrel Ortiz, Taia McAfee, Brenden Davis, and Charles Davis (all Seniors and all semi-finalists in Policy Debate), Senior Viviek Patel and Sophomore Sophia Bowley (quarter-finalists in Public Forum Debate), Senior Taylor White (5th in Poetry Interpretation), Sophomore Justin Bell (3rd in Storytelling), Sophomores Kirsten Moore and Chyna Stewart (quarter-finalists in Policy), Sophomore Makallen Kelley (semi-finalist in Declamation), and Freshmen Matthew Araujo and Maggie Jefferis (quarter-finalists in Policy). Lauren Allen was also a semi-finalist in Extemp, and Jose Navas was a Super Session representative in Student Congress.


Murrah was named the second-place team in debate events at the tournament, behind Oak Grove High School, the first-place team in debate events and overall tournament champion.

Earlier this year, Allen and Navas qualified for the NSDA National Tournament, which they will be attending in June in Salt Lake City. Viviek Patel will also compete there, as a member of Mississippi’s combined World Schools Debate team. The Murrah team is raising money to fund the Salt Lake trip, and donations can be made online at

State Finals


L-R: Jose Navas, Lauren Allen, Taia McAfee, and Shondrel Ortiz before their semi-final round of Policy Debate. Navas & Allen won the round and went on to defeat St. Andrew's Episcopal School in the final round.

 The Murrah Debate team is raising money to fund the trip to the national tournament. Donations can be made online at the team's website.

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