Spring Branch ISD Featured News

Westchester Academy debate team extends winning year to national competition


In mid-June, four members of the Westchester Academy for International Studies (WAIS) debate team will compete online against more than 100 other teams in the National Speech & Debate Association’s National Tournament. Team members who will represent their school and Spring Branch ISD in the national competition, a World School Debate, are: Ethan Carter, Zach Danek, Chinh Le, and Duaa Nasikwala.

Led by debate coach, Alma Villarreal, the WAIS team achieved high honors during the 2020-21 school year. The team:

  • Placed in the top 16 teams at the Texas Forensic Association State Tournament for World Schools Debate
  • Placed third in the Houston Urban Debate League City Championships
  • Qualified for an international tournament, the Bluebonnet World Schools Invitational
  • Won two local debate tournaments and were finalists in four others

Villarreal also was also recognized as the 2021 National Speech & Debate Association’s Space City New Coach of the Year. 

The WAIS debate team, formed just three years ago, provides a forum for students to analyze current events and collaboratively become skillful public speakers.

“Faced with the challenges of COVID-19, the debate team found new ways of communicating as tournaments went virtual, learned how to be persuasive through a computer screen and powered through long hours online,” Zach Danek, debate team president said.

The team and coach already are planning for what’s ahead in 2021-22. Besides setting even higher competition goals, the group is seeking more sponsors and plans to conduct a middle school debate tournament.

Good luck at the national tournament in June WAIS debate team! We are #SBISDProud of you.