Sour Patch Kids advance to Nationals

Debate students continue to leave a legacy of excellence.

More than 4,500 students from more than 1,200 schools from across the country, U.S. territories, and select guest countries will come together for a week of rigorous competition to determine who will become national champions. The school’s team, self-proclaimed as the Sour Patch Kids, will be one of the hardworking teams that are attending this highly prestigious debate competition.

What started off as a joke, is now the reason that the 5 individuals, Debate Captain Monserrat Saucedo, Caleb Strickland, CJ Parrish, Josh Langley, and Katherine Caranza are going to The National Speech and Debate Tournament in Dallas, Texas. Even though the Debate and Forensics team doesn’t receive too much attention, these kids have risen above all expectations to make sure that their coach’s efforts don’t go completely unnoticed.

“…they kind of started out as a joke where they were just like ‘oh we are going to do it,’ kind of like Donald Trump’s presidency,” Debate and Forensics Coach Joel Brown said when asked to describe the Sour Patch Kids’ journey to Nationals. “they were like ‘we are going to do this for fun’, and then it was kind of just like ‘oh wow we won, we are going to nationals so we are just going to have to actually do this’ so kind of like a series of surprises.”

Each team gets to pick out a name for their District competitions. The teams can choose to go the traditional route, and include the school name like Bentonville Black or Bentonville Gold, but this group of personalities chose to go with the quirky name of Sour Patch Kids.  

“This is a funny story,” Carranza begins, “… one of the people in 8th-hour debate said that he (CJ Parrish) looked like the human version of a yellow sour patch, and so that’s kind of like a really funny joke, and once we created our team for districts we decided to be called the sour patch kids because of him”

This team has been through so much together, from getting left in the Hotel on their way to qualifying for Nationals, to actually qualifying for Nationals. They go into every competition with the intention of winning, but they did not expect to go so far as a team in the competition.

“Being serious, I think I have gained 4 best friends throughout all of this, you know we spend so much time together prepping cases at three in the morning, getting left behind at the hotel before competition, we have struggled through a lot,” Carranza said.

All their struggles have paid off though. Together, all combined, Debate and Forensics as a team have won 314 trophies just this year alone! This still excludes the most recent competition they went to, where they brought home many more. But it is not all about the glory.

“The biggest skill that it, (Debate), taught me is confidence because back in 10th grade I was very shy. I never really wanted to talk to anyone, because I didn’t feel that my words were enough or that they were good enough,” Saucedo said, “so yeah, it taught me that anything I can say can mean something, especially if I want it to mean something.”