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Digital Leadership Experiences, GDx

Tip of Texas wins third straight Texas Great Debate championship

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Posted: July 18, 2020 at 10:08 am   /   by   /   comments (2)

It was a different venue for this year’s digital version of the National Hispanic Texas Great Debate, with Zoom, Discord, and Moodle taking the place of Austin College, but what happened the prior two years happened this year: Tip of Texas emerged at the winners of the cross-state competition.

The first-ever Texas GDx, as it was billed to reflect its place in NHI’s 2020 Digital Learning Experiences, closed Friday with a finals competition and an award ceremony. Tip of Texas won its third straight Silver Cup and its fourth in five years, with only RGV’s 2017 win interrupting Tip’s dynastic achievement.

This year’s competition involved teams from Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, the Rio Grande Valley, and San Antonio vying to dethrone Tip of Texas, which represents the Brownsville region.

El Paso won first runner-up honors, with Dallas emerging in the competition’s top three as second runner-up.

The Texas GDx featured a variety of competitions designed to promote public speaking skills, critical thinking, and problem solving on a global scale. It included a brand new event, the Community Asset Project, designed to help students apply NHI’s asset-based approach to viewing communities to their respective regions.

“This program completely exceeded my expectations,” said Chris Nieto, who served as Educational Director for the program. “I was so impressed by the level of professionalism and efficiency of the volunteers to organize a digital debate tournament remotely. The participants adapted quickly to the digital environment and used all the digital tools to effectively navigate the program. It was amazing to see the high level of talent and leadership on display throughout the program. I cannot express enough all my gratitude to the volunteers that trained students locally for the Texas GDx. I am very proud of the new generation of NHI leaders who completed the Texas GDx.”

The awards ceremony, hosted on Zoom and streamed live on YouTube, featured honors for overall team scoring, each of the competition’s separate categories, and the selection of a member from each team for the Most Improved award. Placements in each category also included All-State winners, participants with the highest average scores in a section without making it to the finals.

“First of all, it’s so hard to replicate such a powerful experience as the Texas Great Debate online, but hats off to NHI to coming up for this format,” said Tino Villarreal, who coached Tip of Texas to victory, “Our team members enjoyed the process a lot more than they thought they would, as NHI did a tremendous job at keeping the key elements of the program in place.”

“The takeaways were the same here,” he elaborated. “Even though this happened through a computer screen, a lot of teamwork went into the team’s success. They had to organize and plan, look at complex issues and unravel them and explore them, practiced their ability to think outside the box, and learned that your voice is the most powerful tool you possess. They met all that, even though it was a completely different environment.”

As for the online environment, Villarreal noted there were some concerns from team members about the platform, but as he expressed, “We sold our team on this is the way it’s going to be, took it and ran with it. We emphasized that the world changes, and things change, and leaders have to be adaptable.” He also notes that buy-in from the volunteer team he assembled paved the way for the team’s success.

Winners included:


  • All-State, Viviana Gonzalez, Regents School of Austin (Austin) and Ana Cristina Gonzalez, Coronado High School (El Paso)
  • 2nd place, Maria Fernandez Solis, Veterans Memorial High School, Brownsville (Tip of Texas) and Zachary Edelstein, Veterans Memorial High School, Brownsville (Tip of Texas)
  • 1st place, Gabriella Ortiz, Saint Joseph Academy, Brownsville (Tip of Texas) and Ana Ybarra, Saint Joseph Academy, Brownsville (Tip of Texas)


  • All-State, Arely Cevallos, Saint Joseph Academy, Brownsville (Tip of Texas)
  • 2nd place, Renée Barrueta, Loretto Academy (El Paso)
  • 1st place, Juliana Quinones, John Paul II High School, Plano (Dallas)

Extemporaneous Speaking

  • All-State, Allyson Stresow, El Paso High School (El Paso)
  • 2nd Place, Santiago Gonzalez, El Paso High School (El Paso)
  • 1st Place, Will Hainley, Saint Joseph Academy, Brownsville (Tip of Texas)

Team Trial

  • All-State Attorney, Reece Sampayo, Veterans Memorial High School, Brownsville (Tip of Texas)
  • All-State Witness, Madelynn Rodriguez, South Texas Academy of Medical Professions, San Benito (Tip of Texas)
  • 2nd place Attorney, Emma Hernandez, John Paul II High School, Plano (Dallas)
  • 2nd place Witness, Alhena Kerawala, Imagine International Academy of North Texas, McKinney (Dallas)
  • 1st place Attorney, Daniel Gonzalez, Imagine International Academy of North Texas, McKinney (Dallas)
  • 1st place Witness, Skye Daher, Zion Benton Township High School, Zion, Ill. (Dallas)

Community Asset Project

  • 3rd place, El Paso (Borderline Arts Project)
  • 2nd place, Houston (Citiva Project)
  • 1st place, Dallas (Project Comunidad)

Most Improved

  • Austin: Eva Sormani, Cedar Ridge High School, Round Rock
  • Dallas: Maria Sanabria, School for the Talented and Gifted, Dallas
  • El Paso: Rebecca Martinez, Loretto Academy, El Paso
  • Houston: Valeria Villegas, Energy Institute High School, Houston
  • Rio Grande Valley: Darius Haft, Science Academy of South Texas, Mercedes
  • San Antonio: Elisa Gonzalez, Young Women’s Leadership Academy, San Antonio
  • Tip of Texas: Danna Rodriguez, Veterans Memorial High School, Brownsville

This story included reporting by Tomas Miriti Pacheco.

The GDx is sponsored in part by State Farm and Union Pacific.

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