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Students qualify for second year in National Forensic League tournament


May 6, 2010 at 12:06 a.m.
Updated May 8, 2010 at 12:08 a.m.

Memorial High School debate teacher Rock Westfahl kicks back and listens to the arguments that students Andrea Winn and Michael Valdez are preparing for a debate project. Valdez and Brittany Bradshaw will advance to a national competition in Kansas City, Mo.

Brittany Bradshaw and Michael Valdez worked hard to become members of the NFL, but not the National Football League.

The two are members of the National Forensic League, a national speech and debate organization.

From Harvard to Stanford, juniors Brittany and Michael have made their mark, qualifying for a second year in the National forensic league tournament.

"It's really neat because it empowers you, like you can make a difference," said Brittany, 17, who competes in oratory and foreign extemporaneous speaking.

In order to qualify, students had to place first or second at an NFL qualifying tournament.

"They work really hard," said Rock Westfahl, Memorial speech and debate coach.

The two juniors have competed on Memorial High School's speech and debate team for three years.

"I love to talk to people, especially in foreign extemporaneous and inform people," said Michael, 17, who competes in foreign extemporaneous, and Lincoln-Douglas debate.

The two will compete in the Tournament of Champions in Chicago and the National Forensics League tournament in Kansas City, Mo.

"It's life skills you learn," said Brittany.

It will be the first time students from Memorial will compete in the tournament of champions, Westfahl said.

Memorial High school has earned third place in total points in the South Texas Region.

"We do a lot (competing) in the San Antonio and Corpus Christi circuit," said Westfahl, as the school must go out of town to compete with other 5A school.

Brittany and Michael admit the out-of-town tournaments take a toll on their academics.

"My spring break was spent heavily on catching up from missing school," said Michael, who hopes to attend an Ivy League college.

Brittnay agreed with Valdez, but adds the experience through the organization is unlike any other.

"It's like family," she said. "It's life skills."

The 17-year-old hopes to pursue a major in either history or marine biology.

"Knowing what's going on is the beginning toward anything," she said.

Michael joked of the "Bradshaw files," in which Brittany collects news clippings to use during tournaments.

"She's incredible at gathering them and organizing," he said as students use the clippings to gather information during their extemporaneous speeches.

"It's been a good year," said Westfahl.



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