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Fairview High team wins state public forum debate championship at 50th Colorado Speech and Debate Tournament

From left, Fairview High School’s Wilson He and Stephen Chen pose for a portrait Friday, April 1, 2022. Seniors Chen and He won the public forum event at the 50th Colorado Speech and Debate Tournament. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)
From left, Fairview High School’s Wilson He and Stephen Chen pose for a portrait Friday, April 1, 2022. Seniors Chen and He won the public forum event at the 50th Colorado Speech and Debate Tournament. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)
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Stephen Chen and Wilson He entered the 50th Colorado Speech and Debate Tournament eager to hold down their state championship title from last year’s online competition.

“It just really meant a lot to be able to, especially because it was in person this year; it just felt really amazing to represent our school,” Chen said.

Chen and He, seniors at Fairview High School in Boulder who joined debate together their freshman year, won the public forum category.

“Public forum is a team competition, so there’s two people on each side,” He said. “It’s really basic — it’s on a lot of the current events that are really recent. So I think that’s what really makes public forum special from the other events.”

Chen added that public forum is usually the biggest debate event in these competitions.

Chen and He faced off with students from around the state March 18 and 19. The event was hosted by Cherokee Trail High School, and a total of 72 schools and over 400 participants were involved. Thirteen event state champions were chosen from categories ranging from poetry interpretation to informative speaking.

The tournament is formed by the Colorado High School Activities Association, which provides Colorado students with the opportunity to practice their skills through tournaments, as high school thespians must qualify for regionals prior to the state competition.

Due to COVID-19, the competition was held online last year. Chen and He described the excitement surrounding this year’s tournament, explaining that debate is not complete without the in-person aspect.

“It was a really different experience being in person, especially since the final few rounds were all with spectators and everything, while online it’s just you, your opponents and the judges,” He said.

Chen and He said they enjoyed meeting kids from other schools who share their interests and hope to continue debate in college.

“I think debate is definitely like, a lot of it’s about the experience and the team that you’re with. We won it last year when it was online, but it didn’t feel anywhere as like, I guess, magical as it did this time,” He said.

Chen and He encouraged students to attend a showcase from 6:30 to 8 p.m. April 7 at Fairview High School, where those interested in speech and debate will be given the opportunity to participate in events such as mock debates and speeches.

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