Around Town | June 24, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 24, 2022

Around Town

BRIGHT MINDS ... Although classes came to a close weeks ago, for Palo Alto High School's Speech and Debate team, the work has not stopped. Last week, at the 2022 National Speech and Debate Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky, rising senior Ethan Boneh made team history as the team's first national champion. The tournament hosted 6,000 competitors from 1,500 schools. Boneh competed in an existential event called Big Questions, where the topic of the year considered if "societies benefit from religious belief and practice." He expressed his eternal gratitude toward his team, saying that its support has been unreal. "Our team has been a place for me to draw community, camaraderie, confidence and charisma," Boneh said. "I love you all so much." Other successful students include rising junior Mihir Menon, who made the top eight of his field at his first in-person tournament. Menon said that the event was more fun than he had expected and praised the support of his teammate Benjamin Grimes, who also competed at the nationals. Rising senior Lucas Guan reached the semi-finals in Congress, a mock legislative style of debate. Guan said that it felt more rewarding to compete alongside his team at a real tournament. Retiring program director Jennie Savage expressed the pride she had for the team's dedication. "We could not be prouder of our team," she said. "They've worked incredibly well together to achieve their goals this year." After an 18-year tenure, Savage will be passing the reins to Kyle Hietala, who was an award-winning debater before he began coaching six years ago. Hietala described the poignant timing of Boneh's win, noting that the official change of directors happened in-between his finals round and the announcement of his victory.

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