Debate Earns Top 10 Honors at Two State Tournaments

Nine varsity debate teams debated 46 times in two days at two state level tournaments and earned top-10 finishes and more state qualifying points at both. At the Creekview Invitational, where 30 teams from the area competed, the duo of sophomores Jack Madden and Pete Weigman, and Ethan Jackson and Chris Tran earned third-place honors, and the teams of sophomores Jack Griffiths and Riler Holcombe, and junior Ben Miller and senior Greg Tan took fifth place. At the University of Texas Invitational in Austin where over 100 teams from seven states competed, the team of seniors Beomhak Lee and Alandro Valdez earned ninth place and the teams of seniors Jake LoRocco and Emmanuel Ruiz, and sophomore Jack Moore and senior Zach Watts took 17th.   

At the Creekview tournament, all four teams that reached the elimination rounds were 3-0 in the preliminary rounds with wins over teams from Argyle, Coppell, Colleyville Heritage, Denton Guyer, Grapevine, Greenhill, McKinney Boyd, Saginaw, and St. Mark’s. Madden and Weigman lost to Coppell in the semifinals and Jackson and Tran lost to St. Mark’s in the other semifinal. In addition to the team awards, five debaters earned top-six individual speaker awards. Madden was named the tournament’s top speaker, with Griffiths (3rd), Weigman (4th), Holcombe (5th), and Tan (6th).

At the University of Texas tournament, Lee and Valdez finished the preliminary rounds with a 5-1 record with wins over teams from Austin Westwood, Round Rock, Victoria, and Caddo Magnet (La.). They beat Coppell in the first elimination round before losing to Hendrickson.  LoRocco and Ruiz, and Moore and Watts finished with a 4-2 record with wins over teams from Edmond (Okla.), Casaday (Okla.), Airline (La.), Houston Kinkaid, Hebron, Austin Westwood, and Austin Liberal Arts and Sciences before losing to Little Rock Central (La.) and Heritage Hall (Okla.) in the first elimination round.

Debate Scores Top 20 Finish in Chicago

The varsity debate team of seniors Beomhak Lee and Alandro Valdez earned 17th-place honors at The Glenbrooks Invitational in Chicago, an event which serves as one of the largest high school debate tournaments in the country and features nearly 200 schools from over 25 states and Washington, D.C. competing in the three-day event.  Lee and Valdez finished the preliminary rounds with a 5-2 record with wins over teams from Texas, Minnesota, Illinois and two teams from California before losing to Montgomery Bell Academy (Tenn.), the eventual tournament winner.

The team of seniors Jake LoRocco and Emmanuel Ruiz also finished the preliminary rounds with a 5-2 record and a top 40 seed with wins over teams from Arkansas, Iowa, and three teams from Florida, but only the top 32 qualify for the elimination rounds. 

Debate Takes Top Spot at Hockaday Invitational; Qualifies First Team to State

The varsity debate team of seniors Jake LoRocco and Emmanuel Ruiz earned first place this past weekend at the Hockaday Invitational and as a result of their finish become the first team to fully qualify for the Texas Forensic Association State Championships in March. The Hockaday Invitational is one of the bigger local tournaments of the season with 50 teams from 15 public and private schools competing in the two-day event. LoRocco and Ruiz were 5-0 in the preliminary rounds before defeating two teams from Coppell, Grapevine, and St. Mark’s on their way to the championship. In addition to their team award, both debaters earned top-five individual speaker awards as well, with Ruiz finishing third and LoRocco, fourth.

Jesuit had 24 debaters competing with nine varsity teams and three novice teams. In addition to the first place finish, the varsity qualified five other teams to the elimination rounds, which was more than any other school. The teams of seniors Beomhak Lee and Alandro Valdez, and senior Zach Watts and sophomore Jack Moore posted 4-1 preliminary round records, while the sophomore teams of Ethan Jackson and Chris Tran, Jack Madden and Pete Weigman, and Logan Kim and Nico Wilson all posted 3-2 prelim records. But in a moment of “Ranger carnage,” all five teams lost, mostly on 2-1 decisions, in the Sweet 16 for a giant ninth-place tie. Lee (6th), Weigman (9th), and Tran (13th) also won top 15 individual speaker awards.

Hockaday was also the first tournament for the novice debate team. Six freshmen competed for the first time with the team of Javier Arroyo and Garret Nagorzanski earning fifth-place honors.  Arroyo and Nagorzanski were 3-2 in the preliminary rounds and then lost to higher seeded Coppell in the quarterfinals. The teams of Jacob Clarkson and Marshall Mann, and Thomas Cluck and Marcus Charalambopoulos also posted winning prelim records but did not qualify for the elimination rounds.  Arroyo (6th) and Cluck (7th) were recognized with top 10 speaker awards.

Debaters Deliver Strong Performance at Notre Dame/USC Invitational

The varsity debate team of seniors Jake LoRocco and Emmanuel Ruiz placed third, and the team of seniors Beomhak Lee and Alandro Valdez placed 17th at the Notre Dame High School/USC Invitational in Los Angeles where almost a 100 teams from 15 states spanning coast to coast competed in the three-day event.

LoRocco and Ruiz finished the preliminary rounds with a 5-1 record with wins over teams from Illinois, Arizona, California, and Texas. The duo defeated Rowland Hall St. Mark’s School (Utah) in the first elimination round, Head Royce School (Calif.) in the second and San Dieguito Academy (Calif.) in the quarterfinals before losing to Liberal Arts and Science High School from Austin in the semifinals.  

Lee and Valdez finished the preliminary rounds with a 4-2 record with wins over teams from New Hampshire, Washington, and two teams from Utah before losing to St. Vincent De Paul School (Calif.).

Jesuit-Ursuline Ranger Band Collects Sweepstakes Honors at State Competition

The Jesuit-Ursuline Ranger Band (JURB) received a Superior rating from all judges at the Texas Private School Music Educators Association State Marching Band Contest, earning Sweepstakes designation following its “We Will Rock You” show. In addition to its outstanding performance on the team board, the band took home a program-record number of caption awards.

Featuring soloists Joey Wong-Vermilion (trumpet) and Carson Ward (flute), the band’s performance was lauded for having the top drum majors, drumline, winds section and marching in the competition. Caption awards included:

Outstanding Drum Majors: Martin Flores and Michael Gasper
Outstanding Percussion: drumline and front ensemble
Outstanding Winds: woodwinds and brass
Outstanding Marching

 “The directors would like to express how proud we are of the work the students have put into this season’s show,” offered music director Donovan Putnam. “The countless hours the band has spent together creating joyous music and memories, is truly a blessing to witness. From the most seasoned of the senior class to the freshest of the freshmen members, the band’s spirit has been one of positivity and brotherhood, a quality that is not easily achieved in this day and age.”

The last time JURB won four caption awards was for its “Beethoven” show in 2011, although this year marked the first time that the band won the award for Outstanding Marching.

“We Will Rock You” – TPSMEA state performance (Video)

Debate Closes With Top 10 Finish at UNT invitational

The debate teams of sophomores Jack Griffiths and Riler Holcombe, and Ethan Jackson and Chris Tran, earned ninth place this past weekend at the University of North Texas Invitational. Fifty schools from Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana competed in the two-day event. Griffiths and Holcombe were 4-1 in the preliminary rounds and Jackson and Tran were 3-2 in the preliminary rounds with wins over teams from Oklahoma City, Ruston (La.), Isidore Newman (La.), Prosper, Woodrow Wilson, and Hebron.

Jesuit Stage & Film Takes Top Prize at ESD Film Festival

Jesuit’s burgeoning stage & film program, which just two years ago resurrected its own national film festival, walked away with the top honor at the ESD Film Festival, presented by Episcopal School of Dallas. The festival was juried by film critics from The Dallas Morning News, and included actress Carolyn McCormack, Emmy Award-winning film critic Gary Cogill, and Dallas County Community College faculty member Andy Chiles.

The winning film, titled “Through the Ashes,” was written and directed by senior Spencer Vilicic. The film’s original score was created by Martin Flores, with Calvin Herbst and Jake Hessong serving as director of photography and production assistant, respectively.

“In our third year of having filmmaking classes and filmmaking resources on campus, Jesuit students have started to show some success in local film festivals,” noted department co-chair David Myers. “We’re really excited by the great work that the students have exhibited thus far.”

The Jesuit Dallas Film Festival, which has drawn nearly 100 submissions through each of its first two years from high schools across the country, is looking to move the timing of the festival from its current position on the calendar to late January. The rearranging of the calendar reflects a shift in the Jesuit program toward featuring filmmaking.

Click Here to view “Through the Ashes”

Varsity Debaters Earn Top 20 finish at St. Mark’s Invitational

The debate team competed in two tournaments at St. Mark’s that brought the top 100 varsity and sophomore teams in the country to town. The team of Beomhak Lee and Alandro Valdez finished 17th in the varsity invitational. Lee and Valdez finished the preliminary rounds with a 4-2 record with wins over teams from Albuquerque Academy from New Mexico, Montgomery Bell Academy from Nashville, Peninsula California, and Trinity Valley before losing to Montgomery Bell Academy in the elimination rounds for the top 20 finish.

In addition to the open division tournament, St. Mark’s also hosted the sophomore Hoe Down, a 42-team, six-pod round robin where each debate has a two-judge panel. The sophomore teams of Jack Griffiths and Riler Holcombe, and Ethan Jackson and Chris Tran, competed against teams from California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, and Texas. Each team finished with 8-6 ballot counts in their pods.  This is the first time Jesuit has had two sophomore teams compete in Hoe Down.   

Fifty-Three Students Recognized By National Merit Scholarship Program

Nearly 20 percent of the Jesuit Dallas Class of 2017 was honored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) for demonstrating exceptional academic ability and the potential for rigorous college studies. The students were formally recognized on Wednesday, Oct. 12, during an on-campus ceremony in Hughes Hall.


Over 1.6 million students in more than 23,000 high schools entered the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). The 27 students from Jesuit who earned Commendation status were among the top 2% of all test takers in the country, while the eight seniors earning Semifinalist honors mark the highest-scoring entrants in each state and represent less than 1% of high school seniors across the United States.

In addition, a School-record 18 students were honored through the College Board’s National Hispanic Recognition Program as National Merit Hispanic Scholars, and rate among the top 2% of all Hispanic/Latino students nationwide.

Jesuit’s Semifinalists will have a chance to advance to the Finalist level of the competition by meeting additional standards and fulfilling several requirements. These include having a record of very high academic performance in college preparatory course work; SAT scores that confirm the PSAT/NMSQT performance; and the completion of a detailed scholarship application.

National Merit Semifinalists
William Henrion, Miles Okamoto, Robert Rota, Manny Ruiz, Jack Schwab, Joe Vance, James Vroom, Zach Watts

National Merit Hispanic Scholars
Chase Burciaga, Carlos Cabre, Joe Carver, Manolo De Oyarzabal, Evan Doran, Jake Hessong, Erick Huang, Jake Lorocco, Steven Mancillas, William Name, Aaron Olivo, Marc Riccione, Carlos Riddle, Manny Ruiz, Casey Snelson, Reed Torres, Alandro Valdez, Harrison Ward

National Merit Commendation
Will Aberger, Jack Ayres, Timothy Bedard, Joe Carver, Ryan Clements, Sam Cormier, Will Curran, Nash Evans, Spencer Gautreaux, Jake Hessong, Michael Hogan, Vance Holub, Ethan Lacour, Jake Lorocco, Jack Matthews, Will Naquin, Aaron Olivo, Connor O’Neill, Zach Ovenshire, Jacob Palisch, Noah Sherer, Kieran Taylor, Reed Torres, Alandro Valdez, Thomas Whitaker, Trey Wiederecht, Jeff Zhao

Middle School Debate Workshop Highlights Busy Weekend

Jesuit Dallas Debate, along with the School’s Diversity program, is hosting a debate workshop for over 200 middle school students throughout DISD on Saturday, Oct. 8. This weekend marks the fourth consecutive year of the workshop, which serves to provide students with an introduction to debate while promoting the sport as one of the great equalizers in educational opportunity.

In addition, Jesuit is also hosting a scrimmage for first-year high school debaters. Students from St. Mark’s, Greenhill, Colleyville, Highland Park, and Denton Guyer are expected to participate.

The workshop, which begins at 8:30 a.m., will include breakfast, lunch, and snacks for the participants, while the morning features a series of activities meant to cultivate skills in debate. With assistance by the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance (DUDA), students will take part in a practice debate where they will be quickly introduced to the organizational, research, persuasion, and critical thinking skills highly sought by college admissions counselors and employers.

Jesuit Dallas boasts one of the most historically competitive debate programs in Texas, and has won four state championships since 2000. For the second consecutive year, Jesuit qualified a Texas-high five teams for the Texas Forensic Association (TFA) State Debate Championships in 2016, while the Rangers have had at least one team finish among the top 20 in the state 18 times in the last 22 years.