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West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

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Ceci De Young
Ceci De Young
Yearbook Photo & Video Editor

(she/her) Ceci De Young is a senior at West and this is her third year on the Trojan Epic staff. She is the photo and video editor this year and loves everything sports.

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A talent that can’t be debated

Meet freshman Endrit Ramku through a Q&A about his career on the Iowa City West Speech & Debate Team.
John Cooper
Endrit Ramku ’27, Finnley Bonfig ’26, Lincoln Beihl ’25 and Rowan Bihun ’26 pose with their trophies after competing in Congressional Debate at the Bettendorf Bulldog Invitational Nov. 10-11.

Freshman Endrit Ramku, with experience in Policy Debate, Congressional Debate and Program of Oral Interpretation and a total of 300 NSDA (National Speech & Debate Association) points, is a vital member of the Iowa City West Speech & Debate team. After competing in the East Iowa District Tournament Jan. 27 and Feb. 9-10, Ramku qualified for Nationals in Des Moines June 16-21 for both Congress and Oral Interp. Ramku has also achieved many other titles throughout the season, such as the Presenting Officer Award at the Bettendorf Bulldog Invitational and 3rd place at Tournavelt for Congress.

Besides debating, Ramku has also been involved in the speech and debate community by coaching middle school students competing in Policy and Spontaneous Speech and judging their rounds.

To Ramku, speech and debate is a supportive community with like-minded people that allows him to learn how to view the world from a new perspective. Continue reading for a Q&A regarding his debate career, favorite memories while being on the team and advice to any future speech and debate competitors.


West Side Story: How would you describe yourself as a debater?

Endrit Ramku ’27: “In terms of rhetoric and speech, I definitely try to go for more traditional debate, like persuasion rather than complicated arguments. [This] is why I lean towards Congressional Debate as my priority because I find I can use rhetoric there more often. But rather, in Policy Debate, it’s just complicated. I can do stuff like complicated K debates, which I love to learn about and understand, rather than just read random cards [of evidence], but I think of myself as someone who wants to learn rhetoric and persuasion.”


WSS: How have you used debate skills outside of the debate space?

Ramku: “Right now, we’re doing the STEM Innovator Project in Earth & Space Science. I have not prepared for every single presentation. I have walked in blind, and in literally every single speech, I’ve gotten like perfect points for my presentation. I can just walk into a room and give a speech. I feel more confident in my speaking because I can use my rhetoric skills that I’ve learned from speech and debate, and I can utilize them in the real world.”


WSS: How has speech and debate helped you grow as an individual?

Ramku: “I’ve definitely expanded my perspective, especially with very current topics. [With] family, I sometimes know more about the topic than they do. And I can talk about it because it’s experience that I’ve gotten from debate.”


WSS: What are some of your short-term and long-term goals for speech and debate? 

Ramku: “I found out I’m not going to Nationals because of a trip, but for short-term [goals], I really want to work on my rhetoric skills and probably go to [debate] camp [to] expand my persuasion [which] will definitely help me in the future. And in terms of long-term [goals], I definitely want to get more involved in the event, like helping out behind the scenes or just continuing coaching and helping other people. I love coaching. It’s so fun, especially with the middle schoolers, [to] help someone else find that passion that I have. I definitely want to [continue to] do that and help people find their place in speech and debate.”


WSS: Are there any fond or memorable moments from speech and debate you’d like to share?

Ramku: “It was kind of funny — One day, before a tournament, I was with Finnley [Bonfig ’26] in her car. We played “It Girl” by Aliyah’s Interlude, and we just blasted our hearts out. On the ride home, we also sang it again. Those moments, where we’re such a tight-knit community, especially the Congress crew [since] we’re a small group, you make memories there.”


WSS: Who would you recommend join speech and debate, and why?

Ramku: “Honestly, it’s a rigorous activity. It’s not for everyone. I think [you should join] if you want to expand your perspective, learn rhetoric, learn persuasion, learn life skills or just want something on your college application. But you do need to put in effort; you can’t just expect [it to be] a free club. If you’re willing to put in the effort and the time for the event, then you should join for sure.”


WSS: What advice would you give to someone trying speech and debate for the first time?

Ramku: “It can definitely be scary. When you walk into a round, it’s like, ‘What am I doing?’ I lost my very first round. I dropped literally every [argument]. It was kind of embarrassing, but comparing that to now, it’s just so unreal. It just shows how I’ve grown. But yeah, just [be] calm [and] collected. Don’t be scared by your first tournament, because you can win.”


WSS: What is one piece of advice you would give your past self regarding speech and debate?

Ramku: “Don’t quit. I’ve had the roughest periods sometimes with speech and debate — I’m just so tired. Sometimes, I can’t prep one more [document], but I’ve persevered so hard. And I’ve made it here. I’ve accomplished a lot, so I would tell myself [not to] quit for sure.”


To check out more information about Ramku’s debate career, visit Tabroom.

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Kamakshee Kuchhal
Kamakshee Kuchhal, Lead Print Copy Editor
(she/her) Kamakshee Kuchhal is a senior at West High School and is super excited for her third (and last) year on West Side Story Print Staff. Besides being a writing and grammar nerd (lead copy editor), she is also a debater, volunteer, robotics-member and older sister among many other things.
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