WARREN, NJ  – Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS) Senior Roopa Irakam will be traveling to Hamburg, Germany, on Tuesday, Nov. 12, as a member of the USA International Debate Team to participate in the first of several competitions against teams from across the globe.

At Watchung Hills, Roopa Irakam is Co-President of WHRHS Speech and Debate Club with her twin sister, Deepa Irakam. The student Secretary of the club is Kaleigh Brunner, and Treasurer is Achyuta Murli. Faculty Advisor is English Department Supervisor James Aquavia. Roopa Irakam is also President of the All School Council and Deepa is President of the Senior Class.

The USA Debate Team, comprised of just 12 students from around the country, will compete against other countries this school year. The World Schools Debating Championships will be held in Mexico City, Mexico, in July. The USA Team has finished in the top 6 at the international championship tournament, three school years running.

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J. Scott Wunn, executive director of the National Speech & Debate Association, has said he has been impressed by this school year’s International Debate Team. "Our USA Debate Team showcases the best and brightest high school students in our country. The 2019-2020 team features some absolutely phenomenal speech and debate competitors. I'm certain they'll continue the incredible achievements of this team."

Roopa Irakam brings a history of success in Congressional Debate to the team. Her debate accomplishments include taking first place at the Princeton Invitational, third place at the Columbia Invitational, and being named a finalist at the Yale Invitational and the Barkley Forum Invitational at Emory. 

Irakam was also a member of the USA Debate Development Team, where students practice with USA Debate coaches and practice the World Schools Debate format.

"Debate, both Congressional and World Schools, has turned me into someone who is constantly staying on top of the news, becoming aware of pressing social issues, and delving into global current events,” said Roopa Irakam. “It has given me the opportunity to travel all over the country and world, make incredible friends, and speak to and debate with thousands of students my age who have both shared and opposed my opinions. It is so important for high school students to have the opportunity to debate with people from other countries who share the same interest in politics and issues that concern us. Debate has given me a pathway to use my voice and express my opinion, making me more confident. The lessons that debate has taught me have had such an impact on my life and have definitely changed me as a person."

The USA Debate Team, which trained earlier this year in Dallas, Texas, is coached by National Speech & Debate Hall of Fame Coaches Aaron Timmons and Cindi Timmons, who also serves as Team Manager. To follow the National Speech and Debate Association (@speechanddebate), go to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.