Newark Public Schools Triumph at NJ State Speech and Debate Championships: Showcasing Brilliance and Leadership in Education and the Arts


[Newark, NJ] In March, the high school speech and debate teams of Newark Public Schools showcased their remarkable talent and prowess at the prestigious New Jersey State Championship Tournament held at the Hunterdon Regional School District in Flemington, NJ. The students not only participated but excelled, clinching multiple state championship titles, thus reaffirming the District's unparalleled excellence in speech and debate.

These state champion students not only brought pride to their schools but also garnered well-deserved recognition and rewards. They were granted scholarships to attend prestigious summer institutes, offering them invaluable opportunities to further refine their skills and deepen their understanding of the art of communication. Moreover, their outstanding achievements are duly honored by the state, with the presentation of the NJ Governor's Award for the Arts, acknowledging their exceptional contributions in speech and debate. Such accolades not only highlight the students' individual talents but also underscore Newark Public Schools' commitment to nurturing and fostering excellence in education and the arts.

Central High School’s senior Ayomide Adekoya, led by Coach Dennis K. Philbert, emerged as a standout performer, clinching the 1st Place State Champion title in both the Dramatic and Oral Interpretation categories.  Central High school team secured the state's 4th Place Speech Team overall.

Arts High School’s junior, Amilah Stuart, under the leadership of David Richardson, also celebrated success, winning the 1st Place State Champion in Improvisational Acting, contributing to Arts High School's achievement as 3rd Place overall in the Small School Speech team category.

Science Park High School’s juniors, Ashley Lourenco and Victoria D. Rengel, led by Coach Jonathan Alston, triumphed as the 1st Place State Champions in Policy Debate.

Superintendent Roger Leon expressed his pride in the students' accomplishments, "The achievements of our students in the state championships speaks volumes about the potential of our youth. Not only are these victories a source of pride for Newark Public Schools, but also for the entire Newark community. As we celebrate, we reaffirm our commitment to nurturing the genius in every child by using speech and debate to transform our district into a beacon of light and hope for public education.”

The success of Newark Public Schools at the state championships is a testament to the invaluable role of the Newark Debate Academy. Their collaboration is instrumental in cultivating a supportive environment for our students, enabling them to develop the skills and confidence required to excel in competitive forums. “Having Newark Public School students excel at states demonstrates the impact of our core mission at the Newark Debate Academy: to empower our youth through debate and critical thinking. This win highlights their hard work and dedication, the strength of our community, and the support system we’ve built to accomplish that mission.”

Newark Board of Education President Hasani K. Council praised the students and staff for their efforts and achievements, remarking, "I continue to be impressed by the remarkable performance of our speech and debate competitors. Their success is a shining example of what we can accomplish when developing our children’s communication and decision-making skills. This triumph highlights the potential within our communities and underscores the vital role of partnerships in fostering environments where our students can thrive. Together, we are not just competing but leading the way in student empowerment."

Since 1980, Newark Public Schools' debate and speech programs have consistently won more state championships than any other school district, a testament to the District's 44-year dedication to fostering excellence in speech and debate education. The District remains committed to these programs and looks forward to the continuation of its tradition of success.

About Newark Public Schools
The Newark Public Schools is the largest school district in New Jersey and dates back to 1676.  The District currently enrolls over 39,000 students in 63 schools.  After more than two decades of state operation and upon return to local control in 2018, the District has opened 9 new schools under Superintendent León’s leadership with an additional portfolio of new options to be announced in the coming months and years. The Newark Board of Education serves as a beacon of educational excellence, dedicated to nurturing the potential of every student. With a commitment to innovation, inclusivity, and fostering a love for learning, the District continues to shape future generations and make a positive impact within the community.

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Nancy J. Deering, Acting Communications Director