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Aug 30, 2018 - Plano West Speech and Debate Students Awarded Two National Championships

At the National Speech and Debate Tournament held June 17-22 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, two national champions were crowned both from Plano West Senior High School. Additionally, Plano ISD students from Plano West and Plano Senior High Schools received a total of seven finalists awards. Plano ISD had 42 student participants in 52 event qualifications. Yearly, more than 7,000 students, coaches, teachers, parents and supporters from across the country attend this national tournament.

National Champions

  • Uzair Alpial, Plano West Senior High, first place - international extemporaneous speaking  
  • Jackie Wei, Plano West Senior High, first place - United States extemporaneous speaking

Jacqueline Wei & Uzair Alpial National Champs

Jacqueline Wei, Plano West Senior High School, National Champion United States Extemporaneous Speaking and Uzair Alpial, Plano West Senior High School, National Champion International Extemporaneous Speaking


  • Nikhil Rasaswamy, Plano West Senior High, second place - international extemporaneous speaking
  • Elizabeth Khalilian, Plano West Senior High, fifth place – U.S. extemporaneous speaking  
  • Saavni Desai, Plano Senior High, seventh place - congressional debate/senate  
  • Jennifer Lin, Plano West Senior High, seventh place - international extemporaneous speaking
  • Nick Teachenor, Plano Senior High, ninth place - congressional debate/senate
  • Praynay Dhondi, Plano West Senior High, twelfth place - international extemporaneous speaking
  • Nick Senktas, Plano Senior High, eighteenth place - congressional debate/house

School Awards

Plano West took home the top honor for a team as a “school of outstanding distinction” award.     

Plano Senior High School was awarded a "national debate school of excellence" and the second place Senator Karl E. Mundt Sweepstakes trophy

Coach Award

Cheryl Potts, Plano Senior High speech coach was recognized as a Four Diamond Awardee for her years of service, excellence and longevity in the field.


The following students participated in the national tournament

Clark High School (Coached by Cheryl Potts, Stef Cambra and Neal White)

  • Claire Eaton, informative speaking, expository, storytelling
  • Rohan Chhaya, world schools debate
  • Leela Knapp, world schools debate
  • Vivian Zhao, international extemporaneous speaking

Jasper High School (Coached by Tom McCaffrey and Clarissa Moreno)

  • Benjamin Ai, congressional debate/senate
  • Saher Lakhani, world schools debate
  • Pranav Pattatathunaduvil, U.S. extemporaneous speaking
  • Avaneesh Rade, congressional debate/house
  • Faiza Rahman, congressional debate/senate
  • Angela Wang, international extemporaneous speaking
  • Brandon Wang, world schools debate

Plano East Senior High School (coached by Diane Box-Worman)

  • Aswathi Thomas, original oratory, expository speaking
  • Neha Jayarajan, informative speaking, expository speaking
  • Cedric Zhou, congressional debate/house, expository speaking, impromptu speaking

Plano Senior High School (Coached by Cheryl Potts, Stef Cambra and Neal White)

  • Rea Cooper, original oratory, prose interpretation, storytelling,
  • Saavni Desai, Finalist - congressional debate/senate
  • Joyce He, duo interpretation, poetry, storytelling
  • Kaleo Lee, world schools debate
  • Annie Lu, informative speaking, expository speaking, impromptu speaking
  • Nick Senktas, Finalist - congressional debate/house
  • Nick Teachenor, Finalist - congressional debate/senate
  • Jessie Yu, duo interpretation, prose interpretation, storytelling

Plano West Senior High School (Coached by Rhonda Smith and Kattie Lieto)

  • Uzair Alpial, National Champion - international extemporaneous speaking
  • Gunjan Bhattarai, congressional debate/house
  • Katie Brown, informative speaking
  • Ashwin Desai, U.S. extemporaneous speaking
  • Pranay Dhondi, Finalist - international extemporaneous speaking
  • Anthony Jiang, U.S. extemporaneous speaking
  • Shiva Kandala, world schools debate
  • Jennifer Lin, Finalist - international extemporaneous speaking
  • Ranie Lin, public forum debate
  • Christina Lu, public forum debate
  • Elizabeth Khalilian, Finalist - U.S. extemporaneous speaking
  • Lekha Nettem, original oratory
  • Nikhil Ramaswamy, Finalist - international extemporaneous speaking
  • Mukund Rao, big questions debate
  • Artit Taychameekiatchai, public forum debate
  • Jacqueline Wei, National Champion - U.S. extemporaneous speaking
  • Carlyn Yang, public forum debate
  • Jerry Yang, public forum debate
  • Jason Zhang, public forum debate
  • Michelle Zhang, world schools debate

About NSDA

The National Speech & Debate Association was created in 1925 to provide recognition and support for students participating in speech and debate activities. The first National Speech & Debate Tournament took place in 1931, and today, this academic competition is the largest in the world. Each year, more than 3,500 high school students compete in a week-long competition.