VEHS student debater competes in national competition (video)

Victoria East High School junior Summer Gregurek, 15, speaks on the fly about the impact social media has had on politics in Egypt as part of an abbreviated and spontaneous International Extemporaneous Speaking exercise before competing at nationals.
  • Speaking Topics

  • Here are some of the International Extemporaneous Speaking topics that are part of the 2013 National Forensic League tournament. Students competing in this category draw three questions, select one, then each have 30 minutes to prepare a speech in response.

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  • Speaking Topics

    Here are some of the International Extemporaneous Speaking topics that are part of the 2013 National Forensic League tournament. Students competing in this category draw three questions, select one, then each have 30 minutes to prepare a speech in response.

    Africa

    The Americas

    ASEAN and Southeast Asia

    Asian Powers: China, India, Japan and the Koreas

    A Contest of Ideas: The Struggle for Democracy

    Intergovernmental Organizations and Issues of Global Governance

    International Political Theory and Philosophy

    International Relations

    The Middle East

    Regional and Global Economic Concerns

    Russian and European Affairs

    U.S. Foreign Policy

    The World Next Week

    Source: The National Forensic League

  • BIO BOX

  • Name: Summer Gregurek

    School: Victoria East High School

    Grade: incoming junior

    Parents: Shannon and Mark Gregurek

    Grandparents: Pauline and Floyd Boen, Ed Gregurek

    Debate partner: Aubrey Bleier

    Fun facts: Summer is the efirst in her class and has no clue ...

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  • BIO BOX

    Name: Summer Gregurek

    School: Victoria East High School

    Grade: incoming junior

    Parents: Shannon and Mark Gregurek

    Grandparents: Pauline and Floyd Boen, Ed Gregurek

    Debate partner: Aubrey Bleier

    Fun facts: Summer is the efirst in her class and has no clue about what she wants to do after graduation.

Summer Gregurek, 15, knows what it's like to be under pressure.

This past week, she joined about 3,000 high school students at the National Forensic League National Speech and Debate Tournament in Birmingham, Ala., and competed in the International Extemporaneous Speaking category.

Qualifiers vied for more than $200,000 in scholarships at the national competition.

But after six rounds Summer was 20 points over the 35-point limit for advancing qualifiers.

Gregurek learned she was out of the contest Tuesday and moved on to consolation events in extemporaneous debate and impromptu speaking.

"The competition was tough," Summer said. "They cut from about 300 to 350 people to only 60."

At the national competition, she was joined by her debate partner Aubrey Bleier, debate coach Rock Westfahl and his Westfahl's wife.

After three rounds of extemporaneous debate and one round of impromptu, Summer dropped out of the consolation competitions.

She spent the rest of the time at the tournament watching the final debate rounds before returning home Saturday afternoon.

"I've realized that debate styles can be really different depending what state you are from," Summer said. "People from different regions debate in different ways."

The topics she drew and chose in her six rounds included, "How has the rise of an increasingly authoritarian Russia impacted democratization in the former Soviet republics?" and "What can African nations do to lower infant mortality rates?"

The junior said she expects to return to Victoria East High School in the fall with a great sense of accomplishment.

"I want to bring back some advice on speaking in international extemp," Summer said. "Almost everyone on our squad does extemp. ... It's the one thing we all have in common."

Westfahl said Summer is the youngest student to advance to nationals since 2010.

"There may have been somebody else from the Stroman and VHS days," Westfahl said. "She's the only sophomore I've had who's advanced to nationals."

And across the state, Summer was one of the 25 Texas students to be part of the national competition.

"She's done really well," Westfahl said. "She's our only student to go to nationals this year."

Between Dec. 15 and the state finals, Summer hasn't had a ballot lower than a 2 anywhere, said Westfahl.

In debate tournaments, speeches are usually judged on a 1 through 8 scale with 1 being the highest rank, or they may depend on how many competitors are registered per section.

Summer learned she would be advancing to nationals after placing second at a National Forensic League district tournament at Harlingen South High School.

She joined the VEHS debate team after talking to Westfahl at a freshman orientation.

"Being part of debate has made me better at public speaking," Summer said. "It's also helped me think faster on my feet."