Speech finds success under new guidance


The Speech and Debate team is just like any athletic team on campus. They compete with other schools for titles and awards, but they are not worried about physical toughness so much as mental strength.

Debate is an academic event that celebrates and highlights the original forms of education. It involves discussing and debating one’s ideas.

Impromptu pic-speech
Junior debaters Israel Sierra, Kyle Lozano and Mack Dowdall (left to right) pose for a photo in a Boston train station. The speech and debate travelled to Boston for a tournament at Harvard University. Photo courtesy of Mark Augillard

This year the team has a new coach and sponsor in English teacher John Augillard, under whose direction the team has raked in many individual awards.

“So far we’ve been making progress and we’re moving towards the goal and the vision that has been set forward for us,” Augillard said. “The team isn’t big enough or diverse enough yet in the types of events we participate in to put ourselves in a position to compete with the larger schools for the team trophies.”

With that said, the team has done well considering its size. The traveling team is often around four people. Compared with other schools who bring 20 plus students to competitions, the team is at a disadvantage. Still, the Debate team has managed to place as well as 5th in these competitions.

The team as a whole is larger this year than it has been in previous years, counting around 20 members in total.

“I’ve been involved with debate for five years and part of the St. Thomas team for three years now, and it’s never been better. It’s a lot of work but it’s a lot of fun.”

Daniel Morgan, Master Debater

Morgan is the president of the club. Juniors Daniel Morgan, Israel Sierra, Mack Dowdall, and Kyle Lozano are the veteran members of the club each having earned three varsity letters.

The team participates in Texas Forensics Association tournaments and has the opportunity to reach TFA State Championships, as well as the TAPPS State Tournament.

Augillard has completely turned the team around this year. He provides the motivation necessary for students to succeed as well as the ability to make the debates as enjoyable as possible.

“I’d like to really put St. Thomas on the map in regards to its Speech and Debate team. Much in the same way that the athletics and other activities are already on the map. I just want to continue the tradition of excellence that has already been established here.”

-John Augillard, Speech and Debate Coach

Augillard wants everyone who is interested to know that his room is always open to stop by and talk about joining the debate team. For those not familiar with speech and debate, they are free to stop by and observe one of the team’s practices.

The team competed in their first national circuit tournament in Cambridge, Mass., at Harvard University this month. They were the first St. Thomas team ever to participate in the tournament.

The Harvard tournament is one of the biggest and most challenging tournaments in the nation. There were hundreds of teams at the tournament coming from Florida to California to Washington and St. Thomas public forum team placed in ninth place.

Juniors Israel Sierra and Daniel Morgan made it to the octafinals. Their performance qualified them to represent St. Thomas in the National Tournament of Champions debate at the University of Kentucky.