Qualifying for success

Senior qualifies for national forensics tournament


Photo courtesy of the MWHS Forensics Team twitter

Forensics sponsor Jennifer Jerome and senior Aaryan Naik celebrate after qualifying for the NSDA nationals. “Aaryan didn’t join the team until February of his Freshman year,” Jerome said. “He was a strong competitor from the get go. It’s like he had found his calling. He experimented with multiple events before finding his strength in Informative speaking.”

Olivia Oeth, News Director

Forensics, a nationally recognized extracurricular activity, is based on the ability of a student’s speaking skills and growth over time. The Millard West Forensics team is continuously recognized for their success with numerous round placements from students such as senior and President of Forensics Aaryan Naik.

Having been on the team for nearly the full four years of his high school career having started halfway through freshman year, Naik has been able to place in a multitude of competitions ranging from local to national tournaments. His progression has been a product of his many hours of work inside and outside of school.

Winning six tournaments this year and having been a national quarterfinalist his junior year, Naik has felt the weight of watchful eyes on him.

“I felt pressured to qualify this year because I did last year, but I also love going to Nationals,” Naik said. “I competed at the National Qualifier Tournament and placed in the top two from the entire tournament.”

The NSDA (National Speech and Debate Association) hosts the hardest tournament to qualify for out of three total national competitions in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Naik is bringing his Informative event to the stage. An Informative is a speech detailing a topic with boards to back up their points. Naik’s “info” topic is based on houseplants.

“This tournament has a high stakes qualifying tournament,” Forensics coach, speech teacher and director on the National Speech and Debate Association Board of Directors Jennifer Jerome said. “There are three preliminary rounds of competition and a final. To determine the six finalists, the rankings of each student are taken into account. Those with the lowest rank advance.”

Once a qualifier makes it to their rooms, they must be able to speak in front of various groups of people, making it from round to round until the competitors at whittled down to the best. Rooms hold preliminaries that increase in size as the competitor advances until the final rounds that are presented on a stage.

Jerome has followed Naik through his speech career and plans on accompanying him to the competition. Her position details planning and managing the team as well as 

“I’ve had a lot of support through the years,” Naik said. “Jerome encourages me to be the best version of myself, even outside the competition, and I have made some of the best friends ever. I can also now do presentations in class without being super nervous and I learn a lot from other people’s speeches.”

Friends such as senior Parker Speck have been able to see Naik’s growth from a scholastic and personal standpoint. From after school practices to bondings, their connection has strengthened in ways beyond the activity while keeping a supportive attitude for each other.  

“Over the past four years I’ve seen Aaryan grow as a person as well as a speaker,” Speck said. “I think that his performance has coincided with that. He has major successes in Nebraska as well as on the national circuit since his sophomore year. I love to see my friend in an environment where he flourishes. And it’s fun to see and compare it to where he has come from.”

Although not planning on doing forensics in college, Naik’s high school memories will undoubtedly be an unforgettable part of who he is.