Return to Headlines

Murrah High Speech & Debate Ends Season of Online Competition with National Qualifiers

June 10, 2021

Murrah Mustang Debate Team
Murrah Mustang Debate top performers are (from left): Fatimah Wansley, Hart Jefferson, Alexandria Williams, Anabel Morgan, Tyneah Buckley, Taylor Moore, Parker Hansen, and Aaron Araujo.

Murrah High School’s Speech and Debate team competed throughout the 2020-2021 school year, safely socially distanced in all practices. Tournaments transitioned to online formats, utilizing both live debates and pre-recorded speeches.

Thanks to the online format, the Mustangs were able to compete at more tournaments than in any previous season with 20 tournament appearances. Along with the usual local and state-level competitions, the team entered tournaments hosted in Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and California.

Season Highlights

  • Eight students, representing both Murrah and the JPS-Tougaloo Early College High School, wrapped up their season with appearances at national tournaments:
    • Fatimah Wansley, Sophomore - NSDA National Qualifier in Original Spoken Word Poetry
    • Hart Jefferson, Freshman - NCFL National Qualifier in Lincoln-Douglas Debate and NSDA National Qualifier in Big Questions Debate
    • Alexandria Williams, Senior, and Anabel Morgan, Sophomore - NCFL National Qualifiers in Policy Debate
    • Tyneah Buckley, Sophomore (J-TECHS), and Taylor Moore, Senior - NCFL National Qualifiers in Policy Debate
    • Parker Hansen, Junior - NCFL Qualifier in Extemporaneous Speaking and NSDA Qualifier in World Schools Debate
    • Aaron Araujo, Sophomore - NCFL Qualifier in Congressional Debate and NSDA Qualifier in Congressional Debate
  • Seven competed at the NCFL (National Catholic Forensic League) Grand National Tournament, held online, May 28-30.
  • Four will compete at the NSDA (National Speech & Debate Association) National Tournament, held online, June 14-19.

Parker Hansen is now a two-time NCFL and NSDA National Qualifier, having previously competed in Extemporaneous Speaking at NCFL and in Lincoln-Douglas Debate at NSDA.

Hart Jefferson is only the second freshman in school history to qualify for NSDA Nationals and is the first Murrah student ever to qualify in Big Questions Debate.

"I am so proud of the work of our Speech and Debate team," said Dr. Alvanette Buchanan, Principal of Murrah. "Being highly proficient in the spoken and written word is one of the pillars of the Profile of A JPS Graduate as highlighted in our district's strategic plan. It is from these students' and coaches' commitment to the work of honing and perfecting their crafts, that they serve as exemplary models of that profile." 

Read more about the National Speech & Debate Association and the National Tournament at