High school debaters sweep class of 2017 Founders' competition


The winners of the 2013 Founders' Scholarship competition—Ariel Mouser, Leah Contreras, Jonah Ortiz and Michael Sheetz—all have one thing in common: they competed in high school debate.

Ariel Mouser ('17). Submitted photo.

Ortiz and Sheetz rank as debate national champions.

Ariel Mouser, from Akin, S.C., believes her success in the Founders' competition resulted from her speaking ability and her responses to the questions the judges asked about her speech, both skills that are developed in debate tournaments.

Mouser is glad that she came to King’s. “[King's] lets me grow in the areas I wanted to grow in,” said Mouser, who is in the House of Barton and a member of King’s varsity soccer team.

Leah Contreras, from Westchester, N.Y., participated in speech competitions throughout high school but only competed in high school debate for one year. She still thinks that it helped in the Founders' competition.

Contreras didn’t know that she would be competing for the scholarship when she came to King’s during an Inviso visit weekend until the night before the speeches. She stayed up all night writing and memorizing her speech and presented it without notes the next day.

Leah’s brother, Matthew Contreras, is also a freshman at King’s. Leah is in the House of Queen Elizabeth I, which she has wanted to be in since the ninth grade.

Jonah Ortiz of Calif. debated for seven years, spanning both middle and high school. He thought that the speech was the easier part of the competition. Ortiz did his speech impromptu style, using only a mental outline of the speech.

Michael Sheetz, also from Calif., competed for four years in high school debate. He also thought that the speech was easier than the essay. He said the speech is “your flourish,” because it's more personal than the essay.

Sheetz does not consider his debate experience to have been as helpful with the essay component of the competition.

He called the competition “an incredible learning experience.”

Ortiz and Sheetz, both national champions, debated each other at least three times before coming to King’s. They are roommates this year, and are both in the House of Churchill.

In addition to being high school debaters, all four of this year's winners were home schooled.