Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School

Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School Students Excel at the National Speech and Debate Tournament and Two Come out on Top

Sahiba Tandon, class of ‘21 and Kathryn Tereshko, class of ‘20 competed in the world’s largest National Honor Society event in multiple categories at the National Speech and Debate Tournament, taking home the coveted National Championship and second place, runner-up, respectively, in Expository Speaking.


Gwynedd Valley, PA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/24/2020 --Since the 1930's, The National Speech and Debate Tournament has welcomed middle and high school students across the country to debate, share stories and voice their opinions on current issues and events. After months of training and preparation from their coaches, rigorous participation in district qualifying tournaments, and five days of ferocious competition at the National Finals, a first-rate student will emerge and be crowned the best of the best in front of thousands. This year has been no exception.

The 2020 National Speech & Debate Tournament, which was held virtually this year, saw 5,073 competitors from 1,322 different schools across every state in the United States as well as three other countries. Out of 140,000 eligible students worldwide, only about 6% qualify to compete. Once qualified, you move through preliminary rounds and once through, compete at the National Finals, putting you in the top 4% of Speech and Debate competitors. Making the Final Round puts you in the Top 1/10 of 1%, a momentous achievement. During the 2020 virtual event, Gwynedd Mercy High School had several students qualify and compete at the national tournament, which is remarkable.

Gwynedd Mercy High School has qualified young women at this prestigious national championship for years, attending a total of 17 times. This year, four Monarchs qualified from the Valley Forge District Tournament: Jill Dougherty '20, Rachel Edwards '20, Kathryn Tershko '20, and Sahiba Tandon '21. Sahiba and Kathryn advanced to the final round of Expository Speaking, placing first and second. This is a historic achievement for the all-girls Catholic preparatory school.

Sahiba Tandon is this year's student body president for her class of 2021. She is also the leader of Gwynedd's Diversity Club and the new National Champion for Expository Speaking.

Kathryn Tereshko placed second and runner up to Sahiba in the Expository Speaking event. She is graduating this year and heading to Vanderbilt University.

Cory Clark Shay, alumna '95 and coach to Sahiba and Kathryn, also received her second Diamond Coach Award from the National Speech & Debate Association at this year's tournament, recognizing her years of coaching and the many successes of her students.

Cory states, "Placing first and second nationally in an event is an incredible feat. Every single GMA Speech and Debate team member, present and past, shares in this achievement. Our team learns from one another; our older students and alumnae serve as mentors and have created a legacy of hard work, commitment, and perseverance."

While this year was extremely different from past years, the coaches and staff who worked with these two young women are nothing short of proud of their fantastic accomplishments. Normally performing in front of hundreds of thousands of people, this year posed new challenges and tribulations that were no match for both Sahiba and Kathryn, who came out on the very top.

For more information on the National Speech and Debate Association, click here.

About Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School
Gwynedd Mercy Academy is an all-girls Catholic college-preparatory high school immersed in the teachings and traditions of Catherine McAuley, foundress of the Sisters of Mercy. Gwynedd Mercy Academy not only provides the optimal environment for excelled academic achievement but also fosters a sense of leadership, growth, and well-roundedness for each individual. Holding the highest of expectations and standards, Gwynedd Mercy Academy is based on the values of compassionate presence, justice, service, and respect for the dignity of all persons. To learn more about the school, click here.