Two National Debate Champions Recruited to The King’s College
Included in this year's elite class of freshmen at The King's College are two national debate champions, Michael Sheetz and Jonah Ortiz. Michael and Jonah are both Founders' Scholarship recipients and members of the House of Winston Churchill and are lifelong friends from Orange County, CA.
Included in this year’s elite class of freshmen at The King’s College are two national debate champions, Michael Sheetz and Jonah Ortiz.
Both students participated in the STOA National Invitational Tournament of Champions for the homeschool speech and debate league last May. At the tournament, Michael and his partner won the championship in Team Policy Debate. Jonah won an individual Apologetics speech event.
At the tournament, Michael argued cases on the resolution: “The United States Federal Government should substantially reform its foreign military presence and/or foreign military commitments.”
Michael and his partner received top rankings throughout the tournament. “Our philosophy going throughout it was that this is the last round we’ll ever debate, and we just tried to carry that through the whole time,” said Ellyse Elmer, Michael’s partner.
Jonah participated in speech and debate for seven years before college. As a child, Jonah had a speech impediment that made him difficult to understand. Motivated by this difficulty, Jonah saw a breakthrough in his performance after six years of practice. “I was blessed with a lot of wins, ranking in the top three nationally in my junior year,” said Jonah. “In my senior year, I broke the record for the most amount of points earned by a homeschooler debate, and was ranked first in the nation for combined speech and debate.”
Despite his successes, Jonah’s performance at the tournament in May did not go as expected. “I didn’t advance in debate and most of my speeches,” said Jonah.
But when it came time for the Apologetics speech event, things changed. This competition is a limited preparation event during which students answer questions about their faith, drawing random topics and utilizing cards with verses written on them prepared in advance.
Rather than discussing Christian philosophy, Jonah challenged Christian attitudes on judging others and instead focused on Christ’s love and redemption. To Jonah’s surprise, he won the Apologetics category. “I was surprised and blessed: surprised because I considered Apologetics to be my weakest speech, and blessed because God chose to use my weakness to show his strength. I was reminded that talents come from Christ, rather than from ourselves,” said Jonah.
Both Michael and Jonah agree that participating in speech and debate was an important, formative experience for them. “I was given an opportunity to stand up and talk. For an 11-year-old, awkward homeschooled kid no one could understand, being able to talk was the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Jonah. Michael and Jonah’s high school debate experience helped them with their Founders Scholarship presentations, and Jonah says it helps with his communication-based assignments at King’s.
Hundreds of students like Michael and Jonah apply to The King’s College every year. King’s will teach them to speak and write precisely and persuasively. Students who want further their oratory skills through co-curricular activities have the opportunity to join The King’s Debate Society or TKC Mock Trial, among other on-campus opportunities.
Click here if you are interested in learning more about the Founders Scholarship, which provides opportunities for exceptional students like Jonah and Michael to attend King’s.