Roosevelt Debater Wins National Championship

Roosevelt High School speech and debate team member Lillian Nellans won a national individual championship in the 61st Annual Catholic Grand Nationals in Baltimore, Md. over the Memorial Day weekend.

Nellans, a sophomore, won a championship in extemporaneous speaking. During the 2011-2012 debate season she also won two of the four grand slam events in extemp speaking: the MBA Extemp Round Robin in Nashville, TN and the Extemp Tournament of Champions at Northwestern University.

“Lily Nellans was magnificent in her final round performance simply in charge and on top of everything she needed to handle in the round,” said Harry Strong, Roosevelt speech and debate coach. “This has been her year having won three of the four extemp speaking major tournaments. Only one student in history has accomplished as much as she has this season.”

Nellans also is the first sophomore in history to win those three national events and, in the MBA Round Robin, is the first female champion.

“One of the things that makes Lily special is her ability to compete hard to the very end,” added Strong. “Her ability to focus on the task at hand is phenomenal. Her ability to say the right thing at the right time with the right emphasis is incredible.”

Nellans’ championship is the third national championship in Roosevelt High School’s speech and debate history. George Carpenter IV won a national championship in 1976 in Original Oratory. In 1999, Steven Davis won a national championship in Lincoln Douglas debate.

In addition to competing on the speech and debate team, Nellans also serves as a student representative on the Department of Education’s Learning Council. Members of the Learning Council discuss key issues that impact Iowa students and schools.

Nellans, along with nine other Roosevelt High School students, qualified to compete in the National Forensic League Championships in June in Indianapolis, Ind.

Roosevelt High School’s speech and debate team is coached by Harry Strong, Nate Fredericks, Billy Strong and Harrison Hayward.