© 2016, Classic Debate Camp, LLC

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Jen Gonda

Lincoln-Douglas Curriculum Coordinator

Jen Gonda coached Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum debate at Cardinal Mooney High School for seven years. In 2010, she restarted the LD debate program, which had been inactive for three years, and coached students to break rounds at the George Mason Patriot Games and the Ohio state tournament. The Cardinal Mooney debate team won the district debate sweepstakes five of the seven years she coached. When she is not coaching, Jen is a behavior analyst who provides professional development for teachers working with students with disabilities. She is also currently completing her doctoral dissertation. Jen believes that debate lays the foundation for students to become critical consumers of information and to question the status quo in pursuit of the greater good.

Grace Johannes

Instructor - Lincoln-Douglas

Grace Johannes debated for Liberty High School near Kansas City, Missouri, for four years. She competed in Public Forum debate for three years before switching to Lincoln-Douglas debate during her senior year. Grace made the most of her one year in LD, winning 2nd place at the 2019 Missouri state tournament and 1st place at the 2019 NSDA national tournament! Grace also participated in Model United Nations, women’s issues and other political advocacy clubs at her high school. This fall, she will be attending Trinity University in San Antonio where she will major in international relations. She is very excited to become the second member of the CDC staff from Missouri, joining her teammate and mentor Natalie Schaller.

Nick Protasiewicz

Instructor - Lincoln-Douglas

Nick Protasiewicz competed in Lincoln-Douglas debate for University School for four years. He served as captain of the LD team as well as overall head captain of the US Speech and Debate Team his senior year. Nick was the first LD debater in Ohio history to win the state championship in back to back years, 2018 and 2019. Nick believes strongly in the value of traditional debate and persuasive speaking. He has attended

Nick Protasiewicz wins OH LD championship - again!
OSDA 2019 LD Awards

CDC since its very first year (2016), and he is excited to join the staff and to pass on what he has learned to novice and veteran debaters alike.

Maya Arora

Instructor - Lincoln-Douglas

Maya Arora has competed in Lincoln-Douglas debate for Cape Fear Academy in North Carolina for four years. Maya is a two-time national champion in Lincoln-Douglas at the NCFL Grand National Tournament. She won that title in both her freshman year (2017) and her junior year (2019). Maya has also qualified for the NSDA national tournament three times and has accumulated four career bids to the Tournament of Champions. Maya served as her school's debate team captain for 4 years, growing the team from 0 to 9 LD debaters over four years. Outside of debate, she enjoys following politics, playing tennis, and watching Netflix. Maya will be graduating in 2020 and is excited to join the staff of CDC and share her passion for traditional debate with young debaters. She is eager to help them to enrich their knowledge, improve their public speaking, and enhance their confidence as individuals.

Kennedy Hughes

Instructor - Lincoln-Douglas

Kennedy Hughes competed in Lincoln-Douglas debate for Vermilion High School in Vermilion, Ohio, for three years. She qualified to both the Ohio state tournament and the NSDA national tournament twice. At nationals, Kennedy competed in World Schools Debate. During her junior year, her WSD team finished as octa-finalists. In her senior year, Kennedy was the captain of the WSD team, Northcoast Yellow, that went on to win the national championship. Outside of debate, Kennedy enjoys singing, painting, and political advocacy. She is currently

attending Miami University, majoring in political science and philosophy, and she can't wait to introduce CDC campers to the wonderful Miami campus! Check out Kennedy's testimony.

Rachael Harris

Instructor - Lincoln-Douglas

Rachael Harris debated for four years at North Allegheny Senior High School and was an officer for her team during her senior year. She has experience in Lincoln-Douglas, Public Forum, Congress, and Big Questions, though she spent most of her time in LD. During her senior year, Rachael placed at 8 tournaments, including 2nd place at the Hampton Talbot Tournament and 7th place at the Pennsylvania State Tournament. She is a two-time NCFL qualifier in LD and a NSDA national qualifier in World Schools Debate. Rachael is attending Allegheny College where she is double majoring in political science and computer science with a minor in philosophy. Outside of debate, she enjoys playing violin and listening to vinyl records. Rachael is excited to share her passion for debate with the CDC campers she will meet next summer.

Josh Pittman

Instructor - Lincoln-Douglas

Josh Pittman competed in Lincoln-Douglas debate for Austintown-Fitch High School for four years. He qualified to states three times and the NSDA national tournament once. At the Ohio State tournament, he finished in the semi-finals his junior year and in the quarter-finals his senior year. Josh has coached LD and PF at Gahanna Lincoln for the past two years. So far, he has taken four students to the Ohio state tournament and one to the NSDA national tournament. Josh is attending The Ohio State University and will graduate this spring with a degree in political science. He plans to attend law school in the fall to study criminal law.

Adele Vergis

Instructor - Lincoln-Douglas

Adele Vergis teaches American Government and AP Government at Upper Arlington High School while also coaching the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Team and the Mock Trial Team. Adele participated in Lincoln-Douglas debate for four years at North Canton Hoover High School and has judged and coached for the past five years. Adele enjoys helping students build arguments that bring in concepts they learn in class to each new resolution. When she is not teaching or coaching, Adele enjoys reading, riding her bike or listening to the newest episodes of the podcasts "Stuff You Missed In History Class" or "Hardcore History." 

Isaiah Paik

Instructor - Lincoln-Douglas

Isaiah Paik competed in Lincoln-Douglas debate for four years, qualifying to states three times and nationals twice. In his senior year, he won first place at Perry, Glen Oak, Sylvania, and Bethel Park. He also won the City Club of Cleveland High School Debate Championship. Isaiah served as captain of his LD Team and helped US to qualify 6 LD debaters to states. At the NSDA Northcoast District Tournament, Isaiah was named Student of the Year. Outside of debate, Isaiah enjoys acting and playing violin. He is attending Brown University where he may concentrate in human decision making. Isaiah looks forward to imparting his unique debate wisdom upon the next generation of classic debaters.

Karishma Ponkshe

Instructor - Lincoln-Douglas

Karishma Ponkshe competed in Lincoln-Douglas debate for four years. She served as the captain of Mason High School’s Speech and Debate team for her senior year and was the leader of her event for two years. She is a three-time state qualifier and 3-time national qualifier. Additionally, she placed 1st at both the Centerville tournament and the Mentor Invitational. Her sophomore year she finished in the top 20 in extemporaneous debate at NSDA nationals. Her junior year she placed 5th in LD at the Ohio state tournament. Outside of debate, Karishma loves to play the piano and tennis, and she is the secretary of the National Honor Society at Mason. She attended the Classic Debate Camp in 2016 and is looking forward to being a CDC instructor!  Karishma will be attending The University of Cincinnati this fall where she will be majoring in medical sciences.

Zach Paganini

Instructor - Lincoln-Douglas

Having competed two years in extemporaneous speaking and two years in Lincoln-Douglas debate for University School, Zach Paganini believes in persuasive speaking as well as insightful argumentation. His accomplishments in debate include consistently breaking and placing in tournaments. In his senior year, Zach made it to the top 16 at the State Tournament. As a rising freshmen at Miami University, he hopes to continue working on his argumentation and presentation by joining the Mock Trial team. Outside of debate, Zach enjoys working backstage for musicals as stage manager, which he did for all four years of high school. He is excited to share what he has learned from debate and help others become better public speakers.

Edith Lui

Instructor - Lincoln-Douglas

Edith Lui debated four years for Sylvania Southview High School and was the captain of the debate team her senior year. She has experience in Lincoln-Douglas, public forum, and congressional debate, as well as extemporaneous debate. However, her first love is Lincoln-Douglas. Edith actively competed around the state of Ohio and placed at eight tournaments during her senior year, including first place at Princeton HS. Edith is a two-time state qualifier in LD and a national qualifier in world schools debate. Edith is attending Miami University, where she is majoring in political science and computer science. She is ready to help new and veteran debaters and is eager to spread her love and passion for debate.

RJ McIntyre

Instructor - Lincoln-Douglas

R.J. McIntyre competed in Lincoln-Douglas debate four years for University School. During his senior year, R.J. placed at five tournaments, including first place at Wadsworth High School. In addition, R.J. qualified to states his senior year. R.J. is attending the University of California-Berkeley and will study foreign language. R.J. has worked as an instructor for the University School Debate Camp and is very excited to share his passion for debate with CDC campers.

Information about additional staff members will be posted as their participation is confirmed.
If you are a high school senior who would like to receive information about joining the Classic Debate Camp staff as an intern, please email us at classicdebatecamp@gmail.com.