First Year Debate Student at Yale Tournament

Students participated in the prestigious Speech and Debate Yale Tournament on September 30 to October 2, winning Sweepstakes and several individual awards. One student in particular, Caleb Wright, a junior, placed 6th place overall in Oral Interpretation and was a semifinalist in Dramatic Interpretation in just his first year on a high school debate team.

The Yale Invitational Tournament consists of students from all across the nation who compete at a high level in a variety of different events. Competition is everywhere at these big tournaments. While standing on stage feels nerve racking to some, Wright says it feels natural to him, like he’s just at any other day of practice. 

“Debate is a little familiar because I’ve attended tournaments and I first started in middle school,” Wright said. “However, this is my first time genuinely competing. As for Yale, it was surprisingly normal to me. It felt like a normal competition but in a big building, so not very different.”

Students prepare months in advance to perfect their pieces. Luckily, Wright enjoys poetry and writing and channeled those skills and that passion in both his pieces, which ended up doing very well.

“My poetry piece was a combination of Kendrick Lamar pieces that represented struggle inside inner communities and my prose was about a dead beat father who had M.S,” Wright said. “I knew I would place. I believe the passion and effort you put into your piece has a direct correlation with your results.” 

While this is Wright’s first year on West’s speech and debate team, it’s not his first experience in public speaking. 

“I’ve always been really into acting and also really into competition. Then I realized the speech (specifically interp) side of debate is just competitive acting. I guess why I like it so much is it gives me the chance to prove that I’m one of the  best at something I enjoy,” Wright said.

While you may assume the tournament is specifically located on the Yale Campus or there is a big audience hearing you speak, the real experience is quite different.

“Most of my rounds at Yale were actually in a fine arts high school! They were normal high school rooms until you got into the semi finals/finals rooms. There was no crowd necessarily, but these rounds took place in large rooms on the Yale campus. The buildings were huge and they looked like castles!,” Wright said. 

As much as Wright is beyond grateful for his placement at Yale, he can’t wait to continue practicing and learning so that in the future, maybe the first place title will be his.