Insights & Media

Insights & Media

Competition Review: 2015 – 2016 Season

August 26

The LearningLeaders community has been busy over the past year competing in debate and public speaking competitions around the world. This past school year, teams participated in over 20 competitions in 5 different countries. As the 2015-2016 debate season is coming to a close, we would like to take a moment to acknowledge and congratulate all the brave young people for their hard work. While the individual accomplishments are too numerous to all list here, we would like to highlight a few of the outstanding achievements of the LearningLeaders community.



The LearningLeaders team competed in 4 national championship competitions in China:

  • National Speech and Debate Association of China (NSDA-China) High School Nationals
  • NSDA-China Middle School Nationals
  • National High School Debate League of China (NHSDLC) Nationals
  • China National Schools Debating Championships.

Each of these events bring together some of the top speech and debate talent from around China and the LearningLeaders team made their mark on each one.


China National Schools Debating Championships in Nanjing

We first want to congratulate the national championship team of Linden Li, Abigail Chen and Jessica Wu who won the 6th China National Schools Debating Competition. Also, the team of Evan Shen, Brian Jung, & Catherine Wu lost in the semifinals to Linden, Abigail and Jessica. We are very proud of their performance and hard work.

This competition utilized the form of debate known as “schools debating” which is a variation of parliamentary debate. The competition was top notch, with judges brought in from around the world to provide high quality adjudication of debates. One of the main advantages of competing in this style of debate is the high level competitors and high level adjudicators. The top performers at this competition receive an invitation to join the China World Schools Debate Team and compete against students from around the world. Only five students from every country are selected to join their respective World Schools teams.


Linden, Abigail, Jessica, Evan, and Catherine completed the Advanced Debate course in the Spring 2016 semester and are all currently in their first semester of the Elite Debate course. Brian is in his second semester of the Elite debate course.

National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) Nationals in Shanghai

NSDA Nationals is one of the most prominent competitions in China. Students compete throughout the year to earn a bid to enter the tournament. This year, the LearningLeaders team was dominant. Out of 32 teams making it into the elimination debates out of a pool of 150 teams 9 were from the LearningLeaders team, including the top 5 seeds out of prelims. 5 out 8 of the quarterfinalists were from the LearningLeaders team, 3 of the 4 semifinalists were from the LearningLeaders team. Jenny Gao & Bridget Lu lost a tough debate in the final round to the championship team from the High School Affiliated to Renmin University (RDFZ) in Beijing. Congratulations to RDFZ on a well-deserved win and congratulations to the finalists Jenny & Bridget for making the LearningLeaders community proud.

NSDA Speech

Jenny & Bridget are both in their second semester of the Elite Debate course at the Puxi Learning Center.

National High School Debate League of China (NHSDLC) Nationals

Linden Li and Jessica Wu had a busy summer. Not only did they compete in and win the 6th China Nationals Debating Championship, they also competed in the National High School Debate League of China (NHSDLC) Nationals in Beijing. They lost a tough debate in the quarterfinals earning the 5th place award.


Cal Invitational at University of California Berkeley

The Cal Invitational is one of the largest and most prestigious high school speech and debate competitions in the USA. Students from across the United States and, increasingly, from across the world convene on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley every February to compete in an intense weekend of public speaking and debate. This year, the LearningLeaders team of Eric Tang & Kevin Yang won the top honors in the Public Forum debate division, winning 11 debates in a row to become the champions. Also, Katie Chen “broke” in the impromptu speaking category and advanced to the octafinals in this very packed and competitive event.


Eric, Kevin and Katie are all currently in their second semester of the Elite Debate course.

National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) USA Nationals

Several students from the LearningLeaders team attended the USA National Speech and Debate Association competition this summer in Salt Lake City, Utah. This is one of the toughest debate competitions in the world. This competition has a special breakout round for competitors attending schools outside of the United States. Students came from around the world to compete for the national title. Alina Zhu and Cindy Zhao earned top honors among international teams and were awarded the title of Public Forum International Division Champions.

In the middle school division Cory McCormack and Tony He became the first team from China to qualify for elimination rounds. They won their double-octafinals debate but lost a tough debate in the Octafinals, earning them the 9th place overall award in the USA. Tony was awarded a top ten speaker award.


Alina & Cindy are currently in their second semester of the Elite debate class. Cory recently completed the Critical Thinking course and Tony completed the Advanced Debate course.

International Public Policy Forum (IPPF)

We are also very proud of the team of Alina Zhu, Livia Zhu, Cindy Zhao, and Marcus Khoo who represented Shanghai American School Puxi in the International Public Policy Forum competition. This competition is a unique global event in which students from around the world are paired against each other and, rather than engaging in face-to-face debates, engage in debate via written essays. The SAS team won two rounds in a row and finally lost in the octafinals, falling just short of a trip to New York City where the quarter-finalists compete in face-to-face debates to produce a champion.

All students in the IPPF team are currently in their second semester of the Elite Debate course.

National Speech and Debate Association of China (NSDA-China) Regionals

The LearningLeaders team also competed in a number of regional NSDA-China competitions across the country. The various awards and championships are too numerous to list here. There are a few notable highlights. Alina Zhu and Cindy Zhao were the finalists in the Fall Shanghai Regional and were the champions of the Spring Shanghai Regional competition. Ray Tsao and Renee Liu were the champions of the Spring Ningbo Regional competition. Bennie Liang and Roger Yen were the Spring Shanghai Regional middle school champions. Anna Yan was the Spring Tianjin Regional competition champion.


Ray and Renee are in their second semester of the Elite Debate Course. Roger and Bennie just completed the Critical Thinking course, and Anna Yan is currently enrolled in the Persuasive Speaking for Debaters course.

Other competitions that LearningLeaders debaters competed in throughout the year included:

  • Harvard
  • Tournament of Champions (University of Kentucky)
  • Shanghai International Debate Open
  • Nanjing Debate Open
  • LearningLeaders Thanksgiving Competition
  • LearningLeaders May Day Competition
  • World Scholars Cup (Shanghai, Bangkok, and Yale University)
  • IISPSC (Pittsburgh, USA)
  • WIDPSC (Toronto, Canada)
  • Korea Debate Exchange (Seoul, Korea)
  • Hong Kong Parliamentary Debate Society


Please keep us updated on all your amazing competition successes. Also, look out for the upcoming competition schedule for the 2016-2017 school year. We look forward to building upon these achievements in the new school year.

Join the LearningLeaders Insiders and receive exclusive insights and updates from our team!