Grady High students state their case in speech and debate competition

Once again Grady High has found its voice in speech and debate competition, scoring highly in last month’s National Forensics League championships. Rising senior Taylor Walker placed third in Poetry Interpretation. The policy team of Michael Barlow and Holden Choi placed in the top 20, and the Lincoln-Douglas debater, Lucas Bailey, placed in the top 35.

“This is our best showing ever,” said Grady English teacher Lisa Willoughby, who co-coaches the team with teacher Mario Herrera. “We’ve had a Lincoln Douglas debater who was fifth, and one who was eighth. But this is our strongest overall finish and our strongest individual finish. They’re great kids and they work real hard. There’s a real sense of community and excitement on the team.”

We got a chance to speak by phone to Taylor Walker, who currently is taking the George Mason Institute of Forensics by storm, having won a poetry slam up there. She noted how differently poetry interpretation is from the more familiar categories of speech in debate. In poetry interpretation, Walker explained, the contestant must alternately recite and explain or interpret a poem for a panel of judges. Walker chose Gina Loring‘s provocative and dynamic work, “Somewhere There is a Poem.” (You can watch a YouTube clip of Loring delivering the poem here.)

“Poetry has helped me in my writing,” Walker said. “Because of the books, they spark my curiosity, they make me want to know about world affairs. If I’m listening to someone else give their debate case, it makes me want to know more about it. At Grady, a lot of things are linked together. Poetry has helped me be creative and address the topics that need to be addressed. On the SAT, you get a topic, and with poetry and interpretation, we have to write introductions. So once I’ve done that, things are a breeze. I took AP journalism because it was an awful big help. A lot of things I’ve done at Grady have helped me both as a public speaker and a person.”

Special thanks to Lisa Willoughby and Mario Herrera for helping supply these images!

4 thoughts on “Grady High students state their case in speech and debate competition

Add yours

  1. Congratulations Taylor for your well deserved honor. May your lamp of excellence and curiosity always burn and guide you to many more success!

  2. Taylor, You are an amazing and bright young lady, Keep going forward. Life has many gifts for you in the near future. May God continue to bless you.

  3. Bravo to the Grady Jesters speech and debate team, such hard working and dedicated students and coaches.

  4. Taylor, I’m so proud of you. Keep moving higher and keep your foundation solid.

    Love you,

    Auntie Teresa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: