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Tip of Texas wins seventh straight Silver Cup to cap resurgent 2024 Texas Great Debate

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Posted: June 12, 2024 at 9:17 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Another large and spirited group of students from the Tip of Texas won the seventh straight Silver Cup at this year’s Texas Great Debate at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. But they weren’t the only bright spot at the long-running National Hispanic Institute event, as students from throughout the state shined at the latest installment of the statewide debate competition.

The 2024 Texas Great Debate brought together 278 students from all across the state for one of the longest-running annual NHI programs.

Twelve teams, representing nine different alliances, and competed in two different tracks: The Silver Cup, representing teams of 24 to 30 students each, and the Ambassador Cup, for teams ranging from 10 to 23 students.

‘Excitement and buzz’

Julio Cotto, Senior Vice President of NHI, said of the competition, “It points to growth and resurgence for NHI in Texas, which is now poised to grow beyond pre-pandemic levels of participation.”

“We got the privilege of kicking off NHI’s lineup as the first program of the summer,” said the program’s education director, Tanya Fernandez Alaniz. “The Texas Great Debate always brings excitement and buzz to Austin College. It was great to be in the presence of 278 high achieving freshmen and see them not only present all they had been working on for months but to see the immense growth they had in only four days.”

Efrain Cordova, the program’s other educational director, noted, “Whenever you see any of these young leaders step up to the plate, they show you they’re more than ready to take on the responsibility of leading our community to new horizons. I was consistently impressed with the depth of thought I heard, not in the debate rooms between competitors, but out in the hallways amongst friends. These conversations will shape the Great Debaters’ futures, and so it’ll also shape the future of our NHI community and the broader Latino community. We’ll be in good hands.”

‘Hats off to all regions’

Tino Villarreal, Project Administrator for Tip of Texas, added, “We were very happy to see the Ida Green Auditorium filled to capacity,” referring to the longtime finals venue. “Hats off to all regions that competed.”

He also said, “The competition was tough but fair. We want to congratulate the tournament staff and educational directors for running a smooth program. It isn’t easy to win the Silver Cup, so we are fortunate and lucky to be able to keep it up for seven straight years. We have an amazing coaching staff and very dedicated students who have incredible parents that support their endeavors.”

‘Memories are going to be made’

Mary Randers, Dean of Admission at Austin College, told the assembled students at the opening ceremonies, “Stay curious. Stay open, embrace the challenge and have faith. Be kind to one another. Represent your region with pride. Believe in yourself and stop and take a breath and take in the moment.”

She added, “Memories are going to be made. You belong here, and you’re welcome here. And I hope that this won’t be your only visit to Austin College.”

Two representative participants, reflecting on their four days at the program and their months of work preparing for the competition, saw their public speaking skills improve significantly.

‘I’ve definitely seen myself grow’

Tara Ruiz, a member of the Austin team from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School — who won the Oratory competition — appreciated the opportunity to learn how to speak her mind.

She said, “I’ve definitely seen myself grow, becoming a more competent speaker and presenter, especially in front of people and especially under pressure with all of the rounds and the competition. And I’ve also seen myself grow when it comes to aspects of speech, such as speaking loudly and clearly, using my hands for gestures, using my space. And then also, just having emotion in my voice, especially when I’m talking about something really important or emotional.”

Noel Chapa, from IDEA Pharr College Preparatory, representing the Rio Grande Valley, observed, “I really learned a lot of leadership skills and then how to share my point to the people I’m working with. I saw myself grow in the way I talk. I used to stutter a lot … I became more expressive in how I talk and I’m able to communicate better and clearer.”

The expansive list of award winners reflects the continued growth of the participating regions.

2024 Texas Great Debate Award Winners

(team names and high schools included with names)

Transformation Awards

  • Austin: Elijah Galvan, Austin High School 
  • Bexar County SA: Annabelle Gonzalez, Young Women’s Leadership Academy 
  • Corpus Christi: Brent Swanson, Mary Carroll High School
  • El Paso, Dark Blue: Mary Ann Plecas, Coronado High School
  • El Paso, Light Blue: Sienna Casteon, Coronado High School
  • Houston: Alec Romero, East Early College High School
  • North Texas: Caroline Hunter, Uplift Summit International Preparatory
  • Rio Grande Valley: CJ Agu, Lamar Academy
  • San Antonio Bexar: Ethan Garza, Texas Military Institute
  • San Antonio River City: Demitrius Martínez, Somerset Brooks Academy
  • Tip of Texas White: Jose De la Garza, Saint Joseph Academy
  • Tip of Texas Black: Sara Coronado, Saint Joseph Academy

Cross-Examination Awards

  • All-State Leader in the Silver Cup Tournament: Caroline Villegas, El Paso Dark Blue, Coronado High School
  • All-State Leader in the Ambassador Cup Tournament: Eliana Galvan, Corpus Christi, St John Paul II High School
  • All State Member in the Silver Cup Tournament: Katherine Meyer, Tip White, Saint Joseph Academy
  • All-State Member in the Ambassador Cup Tournament: Ava Pedraza, Bexar County SA, Antonian College Preparatory
  • 2nd Place Leader: Camila Gutierrez, El Paso Dark Blue, El Paso High School
  • 2nd Place Member: Matteo Ghaleb, El Paso Dark Blue, Cathedral High School
  • 1st Place Leader: Luci Niebla, Bexar County SA, Incarnate Word High School
  • 1st Place Member: Sol Velazquez, Bexar County SA, Roosevelt High School SETA Magnet

Oratory Awards

  • All-State in the Silver Cup Tournament: Mariano Hinojosa, Tip of Texas Black, Medical Professions
  • All-State in the Ambassador Cup Tournament: Alejandra Montanez, Bexar County SA
  • 2nd Place: Scarlett Tanos, Tip of Texas Black, Saint Joseph Academy
  • 1st Place: Tara Ruiz, Austin, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School

Mock Trial Awards

  • All State Attorney in the Silver Cup Tournament: Sofia Meyer, Tip White, Saint Joseph Academy
  • All State Witness in the Silver Cup Tournament: Elena Marquez, Tip White, Saint Joseph Academy
  • All State Attorney in the Ambassador Cup Tournament: Brooke Manke, El Paso Light Blue, Coronado High School
  • All State Witness in the Ambassador Cup Tournament: Mia McGrath, El Paso Light Blue, Coronado High School
  • 2nd Place: Nicolas Diedrichs, Great Hearts Monte Vista and Nicole Kock, TMI Episcopal (San Antonio Bexar)
  • 1st Place: Maria Espinoza, Saint Joseph Academy, and Emma Alvarez, Saint Joseph Academy (Tip of Texas Black)

Extemporaneous Speaking

  • All-State in the Silver Cup Tournament: Zoe Strange, El Paso Dark Blue, El Paso High School
  • All-State in the Ambassador Cup Tournament: Samuel Cullum, Bexar County SA, Central Catholic High School
  • 2nd Place: Johnathan Gomez, Houston, Central High School 
  • 1st Place: Rahil Master, El Paso Dark Blue, Coronado High School

The Athenaeum Cup

  • NHI at San Antonio, Team River City, 3rd Place
  • NHI at Tip of Texas, Team Black, 2nd Place
  • NHI at North Texas, 1st Place

The I AM NHI Fundamentals Cup

  • NHI at North Texas

Texas Ambassador Great Debate Championship

  • NHI at Corpus Christi, 2nd Runner-Up
  • NHI at North Texas, 1st Runner-Up
  • NHI Bexar County-San Antonio, Ambassador Cup Champions 

Texas Great Debate Championship

  • NHI at Tip of Texas, Team White, 2nd Runner-Up
  • NHI at San Antonio, Team River City, 1st Runner-Up
  • NHI at Tip of Texas, Team Black, Silver Cup Champions

The Texas Great Debate is made possible in part by sponsorship by State Farm.

Elizabeth Garcia, Bella Sada, and Julio Cotto contributed to reporting on this story.

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