History made for Woitena, DHS debate

No argument: History made for Woitena, DHS debate
Posted on 05/14/2019
This is the image for the news article titled No argument: History made for Woitena, DHS debateBy: Jade Wise
Pasadena ISD Communications

When Caitlyn Woitena arrived at the University of Kentucky for the Tournament of Champions – widely considered to be the premier high school speech and debate tournament, she had no idea she would be leaving as the national champion in dramatic interpretation.

“In one word, it was surreal,” said Woitena. “It was rewarding to see an award come from so many months of hard work and it was so amazing to share that moment with my team. I definitely could not have done it without the wonderful support of my teammates and coaches.”

According to Dobie debate coach Andrew Barrett, it’s the first time since 1979 that Dobie has had a national champion.

“Having a national champion on the team feels absolutely amazing,” said Barrett. “To accomplish something that hasn’t been done in 40 years is a great feeling and I’m so proud of Caitlyn and the whole team.”

Woitena’s dramatic interpretation performance deals with family relationship struggles, overcoming differences by finding common ground and loving others.

She said that in addition to being able to spread her message of acceptance, she finds joy in being able to spotlight her school.

“It’s really great to be able to bring home a national championship to Dobie,” said Woitena. “It means a lot to me that our school’s name is being put out there and it shows that we are working so hard to build a great team and culture here.”

Anchored by Woitena, Dobie’s six-person team received a Team Excellence Award as the 4th overall best team at the tournament. 

The prestigious tournament featured top high school debaters from over 300 schools from 35 states and four countries. In order to qualify for this tournament, each competing students had to show excellence throughout the competitive year by receiving top awards in at least two national invitational tournaments. 

According to Barrett, most teams only specialize in one event at the tournament, but the Dobie team was able to advance to elimination rounds in three different events.

“It’s already very difficult to qualify in just one event, so to have students who advanced in multiple events is an extraordinary feat,” said Barrett. “I’m so proud of this team and everything they have accomplished.”

The students who placed for Dobie are: 

Caitlyn Woitena, National Champion, Dramatic Interpretation; Program of Oral Interpretation Quarterfinalist 

Makaela Reed, 5th place, Dramatic Interpretation; Program of Oral Interpretation Quarterfinalist; Oral Interpretation Semifinalist

Derneisa Green, 4th place, Oral Interpretation; Program of Oral Interpretation Semifinalist

Reginald Jefferson, Oral Interpretation Semifinalist; Program Oral Interpretation Semifinalist

Keishon Groves, Program of Oral Interpretation, Quarterfinalist

Kianna Groves, qualified in Duo Interpretation

According to team members, the awards were just a bonus to the experience of the tournament and the bond that the team has formed.

“To be able to compete against some of the best debaters in the world at the tournament was absolutely amazing,” said senior Derneisa Green.

“It was a tedious tournament. We competed from sunrise to sunset on both Saturday and Sunday,” added fellow senior Makaela Reed. “As a team we were each other’s emotional support and our mantra is that we are a part of something greater than ourselves.”

DHS Debate Tournament Photo
(L to R): Makaela Reed, 5th place in Dramatic Interpretation;Caitlyn Woitena, National Champion in Dramatic Interpretation and Derneisa Green, 4th place in Oral Interpretation all placed at the Tournament of Champions in Kentucky.