BY ALISON CHURCH
Qualifying for state finals in debate is not an easy task; but on March 7th, senior Tristan Keene and sophomore Juhi Yadav did just this. This is a monumental moment for the Benicia High School debate team, as they are the first Benicia high school students ever to qualify. To nobody’s surprise, Tristan and Juhi became one of 64 pairs from both public and private schools in California to qualify for the upcoming finals taking place from April 24th-26th. A long day of hard work on saturday led the power duo to beat 26 other teams of debaters from multiple competitive Bay Area high schools. They are the first debate duo to ever qualify in Solano County.
Juhi Yadev was more than pleased with their win: “It was the best feeling when we found out we had made it, especially because we did all our prep thinking that we’d never make it, and we actually thought that we had lost through the entire tournament; it was super rewarding finding out that it all paid off in the end.” In terms of her and her partner’s chemistry as a duo, Juhi had nothing but praise for her partner: “Tristan and I have really contrasting styles of debate, and that definitely helps us a lot. She’s such a good debater and an awesome partner — I really couldn’t ask for any one better! I think our greatest strength was our partner chemistry.” In the future, Juhi thinks they should work on “extending arguments through our entire speech.”
The resolution for this tournament was “Resolved: the United States should increase its nuclear energy usage for commercial energy production.” Topics that they touched base on included climate change, the costs of power generation, the dangers of nuclear power plants and nuclear waste, the history of wars fought over oil, and the effect of uranium mining. Since the partners had to argue for both sides, Juhi reports that “a lot of prep went into it. I think our google doc for this topic was like 150 pages long which was kind of crazy. We definitely did a lot of planning for this topic!” The judges certainly noticed their hard work, their skill, and their knowledge of the topic.
Due to the Coronavirus, state finals may be cancelled/postponed. As for now, Benicia High School is proud of them for qualifying, despite the virus potentially interfering with its taking place.