In only her third year of debating, junior Juliette Reyes has reached the position of Co-President alongside junior Luca Zislin of the debate team. Debate presidential candidates must first be nominated by the members of the club then by the supervisors, so Reyes’s early presidency strongly demonstrates the popular observation of her newfound success in the debating field.
When she was younger, debate was never in her sights as she was focused on golf. However, Reyes still tried out debate her freshman year at Archbishop McCarthy High School. “It was at that point that I switched from golf and sports towards debate and public speaking,” Reyes said. “I’ve always loved to talk in public. Eventually, I started getting more involved with news and politics, especially during the 2016 election, so that really has helped shaped me to a more debate-oriented future.”
While McCarthy is where she found her feet, Reyes was not satisfied with the caliber of debate found there, especially regarding her category, extemporaneous speaking, which is a limited-preparation speech event based on research and original analysis. “I did debate at McCarthy, but they didn’t have as developed of a program as Heritage’s for my category,” Reyes said. “I came to Heritage for a lot of the benefits that they give. Debaters get a lot of chances to travel, seek out private coaching, and more than anything expand on what I wanted to do.”
Reyes sports second and third place trophies along with a finalist plaque in extemporaneous speaking at the Creastian Tradition Invitational at Cypress Bay High School in November. (Photo submitted by Juliette Reyes)
Since her arrival at Heritage sophomore year, Reyes has attended more than 50 debate tournaments. “This year it seemed as though every week I was going to a different state [for debate]. It’s because now as opposed to the last two years I’ve been qualifying for more tournaments and have been getting invited to more round robins,” Reyes said. “If you want to get to a certain level you have to keep going.”
Already ranked number five in the country with approximately 17 awards, Reyes is looking at a debate future. “I’m looking forward to pursuing college debate,” Reyes said. So far, both the University of Texas and George Mason University have approached the young debate star about attending their colleges for debate.
Reyes strongly believes debate has provided her with skills and a general knowledge of today’s world she would not have otherwise developed. “[Debate has] truly given me the opportunity to pursue what I love and learn so much from it. There’s nothing that’s given me a better opportunity in life with its contribution to general life skills, and I really encourage everyone to just try it out.”