Zapata Elementary Academy students compete at Nationals

Two students on the Zapata debate team.

Emiliano Zapata Elementary Academy became the first school in the history of the Chicago Middle School Debate League to compete at the National Junior Forensic League National Championship, held in Indianapolis in mid-June. Six Zapata students faced off against schools from all over the country, including Houston, New York and Atlanta, and even debated a team from Taipei, Taiwan.

Coach Christopher McCabe, a math teacher at Zapata and the winner of the 2012 CMSDL Golden Gavel Coach of the Year Award, said, “I cannot begin to describe the growth of my students at the NJFL National tournament. It was the culmination of a wonderful season on a national stage. It was a proud moment for me because we represented Latinos from Chicago, Illinois.”

Zapata debate team students.

The Zapata students competing at NJFL Nationals were Viviana Gonzalez, Veronica Martinez, Ulisses Regalado, Eliseo Navarrete, Cecilia Hernandez, and Juan Castellanos. They reported bonding with their teammates and coach and gaining exceptional debate experience that they will bring back to school this year.

Mr. McCabe saw the Nationals as an important experience to build his thriving debate team and continue their success story. “I saw a growth in thought, reflection, humility and pride. We plan to attend the NJFL Nationals again and represent the Chicago Middle School Debate League to the highest level ever.”