by Ani Janakiraman ’26

Bellarmine is home to a diverse community, with people of different interests. Bellarmine has nearly 110 clubs, but one of the most popular activities on campus is Speech and Debate. It is one of the largest extra-curricular activities at the school with more than 150 participants. Bellarmine has achieved immense success in the state, and even national level, as in both 2021 and 2022, the Bells finished as the top team in the country. Speech and Debate is an activity that allows people to help each other grow, lets them sharpen their logic skills, and helps improve their confidence.

Every Thursday after school, from 3:00 P.M, to 4:00 P.M., the Novice Debate meetings for eager freshman are hosted. The upperclassmen help lead the meetings, and most recently, the freshman debaters learned Congressional Debate. After learning the event and getting live practice, they most recently competed in the “Congress Novice” Tournament on October 22nd, and there were a lot of positive things to take away, and some areas of improvement. This week, we interviewed a competitor in the tournament, Caleb Kim (Freshman), along with a varsity debater and judge in the tournament, Akshar Ammu.


Caleb Kim 26’- Novice Debater

Q: How do you think you performed for your first ever debate tournament?

A: “I didn’t do as well as I expected. I felt like I was shaky, but when you get into the thick of things it gets easier. I also had to switch on ALL the sides which wasn’t great, so I could only use my prep speech for 1 bill. But for the one I was prepared for I got 5th place ranking, but I think it was a good start to learn more about Congressional debate.”

Q: What are your initial opinions on Congress?

A: “Everyone [whom I’ve talked to at Bell] always said policy debate was the best event, and since I like model UN a lot, Congress was really similar to it, and I really enjoyed it. It was a great experience, and I hope to learn more and improve.”

Q: Do you plan to pursue Congress in your future debate career?

A: “Definitely, most likely Congress and Lincoln-Douglas.”

Q: How do you think the varsity debaters helped prepare you for the tournament?

“The guidance that they provided, since I don’t do rhetoric, was very helpful. Shae McInnis and Andrew Huang led the meetings in the initial weeks, but then the Congress Varsity guys came, and they taught us the ins and outs of Congress”

Q: What is your favorite part of the event itself?

A: “I like the part of clash and interacting with the debaters both in the debate and even after. You still must be respectful and it’s always fun to win a good debate.”

Q: What are some things that you learned after you competed?

A: “No matter what, always have yourself involved, even if you don’t have a good question in cross ex, still ask a clarifying question. The judges won’t notice you if you don’t get involved. Always be confident when you are talking.”


Nihaal Konda ’23 — showing how upperclassmen can support freshmen

Akshar Ammu 25’ – Varsity Congressional Debater

Q: What do you think it takes to become a successful debater?

A: “Hard work- I was not good [initially] when I started, but I started working an hour a day and improved a lot”

Q: Is there any advice you would give the novice debaters?

A: “My advice would be to start working hard and meeting with varsity members every day to practice a speech”

Q: How did your varsity tournaments go this year compared to last year when you were a freshman?

A: “I did a lot better this year- placing second at my first tournament and going to the finals for a camp tournament with many skilled debaters”

Q: How was it different being on other side judging, opposed to competing in this tournament last year?

A: “Judging was boring. I like competing more.”

Q: How do you think the novices did for their first ever Congress tournament?

A: “They did better than we did when I was a frosh- they had much better delivery”

Q: What is your favorite part about Congress?

A: “Making new friends across the circuit is fun- in rounds just debating the topics is very fun and interesting.”


That is going to conclude the article! Bellarmine has lots of young talent and is looking forward to helping develop the young debaters into more polished and experienced debaters. That was the novices first time “taking their jump” in debate. They familiarized themselves with the event, and now have experience in a tournament type of setting. There are many more tournaments coming up, so please check for more articles these coming weeks!