Concordia Speech & Debate Team Takes 2nd Place at State; Kralowetz Named Top Academic Student

In the middle of April, nine members of Concordia’s Speech & Debate Team as well as a few members of the Academic Team competed in Waco for the 2023 TAPPS 6A State Championships for Academics, Speech, and Debate.  

At the state competition, Concordia finished with 61.5 points overall to place 6th overall out of 13 schools. The Crusaders finished in 9th place in the Academics section but the team closed the competition by finishing in 2nd place in the Speech & Debate section. The 6th place finish earned 2 points toward the 22-23 TAPPS 6A Henderson Cup total and helped Concordia secure a Fine Arts State Championship with 36 points from various state Fine Arts events.

At the TAPPS State Academic, Speech, and Debate competition, there are 12 different academic events and 7 speech/debate events. The academic events include: Number Sense, Calculator, Science, Math, Social Studies, Adv. Math, Literary Criticism, Current Events, Spanish, Ready Writing, Spelling, and Yearbook. The speech/debate events include: Lincoln/Douglas Debate, Persuasive Speaking, Original Oratory, Solo Acting, Duet Acting, Prose, and Poetry. 

Individually, several Crusader had very strong showings at the State competition:

  • Rebecca Kralowetz ’24 led Concordia by earning 19 individual points and was named the TAPPS 6A 2023 Virginia Wirth Top Academic student of the year. (Each year, TAPPS recognizes the overall academic champion student in each of the six classifications.) The Virginia Wirth Award winner is determined by points gained in each of the 19 different contests. The award is named for Mrs. Virginia Wirth of Stone Gate Christian Academy whose service to TAPPS helped to develop and advance the speech competition.
  • Kralowetz had several strong finishes placing in the top 8 in four of the 19 events at the State competition which included Solo Acting (2nd), Duet Acting with partner Averyanna Fultz ’24 (3rd), Poetry (6th), and Original Oratory (7th).
  • Jaden Thibodeau ’24 placed in two events: Poetry (2nd) and Lincoln/Douglas Debate (3rd).
  • Ray Reese ’23 and Haleigh Everage ’25 teamed up to finish as State Runner Up in Duet Acting (2nd).
  • Fultz partnered with Kralowetz in Duet Acting (3rd) and Fultz also placed in Solo Acting (4th).
  • Selena Lemmon ’25 and Bella Decillo ’25 both had fourth place finishes in Persuasive Speaking (Lemmon) and Poetry (Decillo).
  • Concordia’s 2021-2022 Yearbook placed 6th.
  • Grayson Snyder ’25 placed 7th in Current Events.
  • Lucas Winetrout ’26 placed 8th in Math.

Both of Concordia’s Duet Acting teams qualified to compete at the NIETOC Tournament in Minnesota, in May. Kralowetz also qualified for the NIETOC tournament in solo acting.

Additional Speech and Debate Honors:

Earlier this year, Ray Reese ’23 was the East Texas NSDA District Champion in Humorous Interpretation. This win qualified him for the National Speech Debate Association (NSDA) Tournament in Mesa, Arizona, on June 12-16 at the Phoenix Convention Center. Reese is the first student from Concordia to compete at this level and achieve this honor and is one of over 6,000 competitors from 2,000 schools participating in this special tournament event. We wish Ray well in this special opportunity!

Concordia’s Speech and Debate Coach, Mrs. Debbie Waddell, earned special recognition for her years of coaching from the NSDA, as she was honored as a Fourth Diamond Coach. Diamond Awards reflect excellence and longevity in the activity of Speech and Debate. A coach’s first diamond is earned when they receive 15,000 points since achieving the degree of merit (25 points). Five years must pass and 15,000 points must be earned to receive a second diamond. An additional 30,000 points must be earned and five years must pass for each additional diamond. This requires many years of dedicated service to coaching Speech and Debate and we are thankful for Mrs. Waddell and are honored to have her as part of our team!


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