For most students, St. Mark’s annual Heart of Texas Invitational Speech & Debate Tournament means a Friday off from school. But for the dedicated student and faculty members of the School’s debate team, the Tournament offered an opportunity to put into action lessons of dedication, leadership, and community. Over the long weekend, more than 500 high school debaters from across the nation, and even as far away as Taiwan, converged on 10600 Preston Road. With nearly every classroom and space on campus in use, the entire St. Mark’s debate team, including 40 Marksmen in grades 8–12, invested hundreds of hours preparing, running, and cleaning up after the weekend.
“All year, we attend debate tournaments across country, so this was our chance to show what a great host St. Mark’s can be,” said St. Mark’s Debate Coach Tim Mahoney. “I couldn’t be more proud of the work our Marksmen invested in this weekend. They were courteous hosts, helped attendees find their way around campus, and made sure the rooms and facilities were clean and ready for classes to resume on Monday.”
The Tournament, which is part of the National Speech & Debate Association tournament circuit, featured several speech and debate events, including international and domestic extemporaneous speaking, congressional debate, Lincoln-Douglas debate, policy debate, and public forum. The team from Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, took the top prize, winning the policy debate division. For the first time, St. Mark’s debaters competed at the Heart of Texas and the two varsity teams each came away with a 3-3 record.
“We want the people who compete in the Heart of Texas to recommend it to others because of how hospitable and welcoming we are as a school,” said Wheeler Sears ’19, who both worked at and competed in the Tournament. “We put in a lot of work before the weekend, too. We scout classrooms across campus, getting to know the layout and making sure chairs and desks are put back in order afterwards. The Tournament itself is always difficult because things inevitably go wrong if teams don’t show up or rounds take too long. In short, there’s a lot of effort before, during, and after the Tournament but it’s a favorite of many of the participants.”