Directors: Chris Castillo and Jenn Melin

NSD Texas is a two week intensive summer institute targeted towards the nuances of debating Lincoln-Douglas in the Texas region. We believe that the Texas circuit is one of the most competitive regions in the country, but moreover that debating and succeeding in Texas warrants a nuanced and specifically focused curriculum for the state; something that no other summer institute provides. Staffed by the best coaches and debaters in Texas, NSD Texas provides a comprehensive curriculum for success in the Lone Star state. Click here to read about our curriculum, mission, and why NSD does it better. Look below for information on the NSD Texas session!

NSD Texas is designed to provide a rigorous and supportive environment for Texas LD debaters at all levels of experience and success, and across diverse styles of debate. As one of the most competitive states for high school LD, Texas hosts a number of local circuits, each one competitive and unique. NSD Texas is primarily aimed at helping students from Texas develop the skills and knowledge needed to excel at all levels of competition, including the UIL, TFA, and TOC circuits. For students from other states wanting to do well at the TOC tournaments in the lone star state, NSD Texas will offer the opportunity to develop the keys to success with some of Texas’ most successful coaches and recent competitors. Click here for an overview of our curriculum and why NSD does debate camp better. Read below for the specificities of the Texas curriculum. 

Labs

Students are grouped into labs based on experience level, and these groups form the heart of the NSD experience. All NSD labs maintain a 1:4 instructors to student ratio, and this calculation does not include additional administrative staff. NSD treats all students as equally important by assuring individualized attention to each and appointing veteran national circuit instructors to work in every lab.

Rotations

NSD Texas will move away from a traditional system of lab and modular lectures to a system of labs and “rotations”. Students will still do the bulk of their learning in traditional labs, but will receive outside instruction in rotations. Rotations consist of three 2-hour blocks of time (one a day for three days) during which labs receive instruction on some topic by two instructors who are not their lab leaders. Rotations will happen in lab groups, but from outside instructors who specialize in the content area. We believe rotations capture the benefits of the old lectures (introducing students to new staff, and allowing the staff to speak on their strongest topics) but retain the unique benefits of lab (hands on instruction, small size, and the ability to effectively and immediately reinforce topics with drills and homework).

Mentorship

At NSD Texas, each student will be assigned a mentor that they will see daily over the duration of camp. Meeting in either small group or individual group sessions, mentor time will be the concluding portion of the day where students are able to ask questions they may have had from lab that day, do drills, or be taught new and exciting topics that they're interested in learning about. In this time, students are able to make closer connections with their staff members and have somebody watching and checking in on their progress during their camp experience. 

Elective Seminars

While we believe that teaching in lab is the most effective way to teach, we acknowledge that there is value in being able to teach more specific topics for shorter periods of time, which led to the creation of Elective Seminars. These are one-off, two hour seminars (constituted of a mixture of lecture, discussion, and drills), taught by single instructors to lab-sized groups but not in actual labs, since students choose which seminars to attend. Staff propose the topics they would like to teach in elective seminars and so all seminars are taught by staff who are passionate about the subject they are teaching.

Practice Rounds

All students attending NSD Texas will have at least 10 practice debates observed by instructors, who will provide feedback on what students should do to improve.

Return Soon for More Staff Announcements!

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Jenn Melin, Director of NSD Texas

University of North Texas, BA

Jenn Melin has been active in the national and Texas debate communities for fifteen years.  As a coach her students have been in out rounds of virtually every major national tournament. She has coached champions of the Grapevine and University of Texas TOC Bid Tournaments. Jenn has qualified thirteen different students to the TOC, with a significant number of those qualifications coming from small Texas programs with travel restrictions. She has qualified almost every student she’s ever coached to TFA State; culminating in a record setting fourteen LD qualifications in a single year. She coached the 2016 Grapevine runner-up.  Her students have participated in out rounds of both TOC and TFA. Jenn has also coached a UIL 5A State Champion.This will be her second year directing NSD Texas. 

Click here for more

 

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Chris Castillo, Director of NSD Texas

University of Houston, BA

Chris has been the Head LD Coach at Strake Jesuit in Houston, TX for 9 years. He has coached champions at Grapevine, UT Austin, Greenhill, Victory Briefs (now Harvard-Westlake), Bronx Science, and Berkeley. He has coached students to finals at every TOC bid tournament in Texas along with at least semifinalists at 8 different TOC Octafinal bids. Chris has worked for 16 years as a coach, judge, tournament director, and institute director. A staple of the community and a common sight at nearly every one of the major tournaments, Chris was awarded the Bronx Achievement Award for his contributions to the debate community, and this year alone has coached the champions of St. Mark's in Dallas, TX, and the UT Austin Tournament. 

 

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John Sims

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Alex Yoakum

Grapevine High School, TX, '15

Emory University, GA, '19

Alex Yoakum graduated from Grapevine High School in 2015. They qualified to the TOC their senior year, receiving their bids from Greenhill and Minneapple, as well as reaching several bid rounds throughout their debate career. They also participated in the Greenhill and Bronx Round Robins. Currently, Alex is a philosophy and comparative literature double major at Emory University. In addition to their academics, they have presented papers on Queer Theory in undergraduate literature and philosophy conferences. They also are now the Editor-in-Chief of a new journal on literary criticism and philosophy at Emory. Their main debate interests include postmodernism, traditional ethical philosophy, Queer theory and Critical Race Theory.


Chakra Jonnalagadda

Cypress Woods High School, TX, '18

Chakra debated for Cypress Woods HS for 4 years on the local and national circuit. He qualified to the Tournament of Champions senior year, attaining a total of 9 career bids. Some notable achievements of his include championing the UT and UH tournaments, finals at the TFA State Championship and the strake jesuit invitational. Areas of Expertise: Philosophy, T/Theory, and Kritiks.

 

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Michael Kurian

Dulles High School, TX, '18

University of Texas San Antonio, TX, '22

Michael Kurian did Lincoln-Douglas debate at Dulles High School in Houston, TX for two years. So far in his senior year he has earned five career bids, reaching elimination rounds at Harvard, St. Marks and Winston Churchill and getting to late outrounds at Holy Cross, Strake Jesuit, Colleyville, the University of Houston, the University of Texas, and Valley. He qualified to the TOC twice, getting to the bubble round as a junior. His debate interests are framework and critical theory with a focus on Nietzsche, Psychoanalysis, and Orthodox Marxism. He looks forward to teaching at NSD and sees debate as an educational platform for activism and political praxis. Next semester he will be studying Philosophy, Literature, and Anthropology under the UT Capstone Program for Liberal Arts at the University of Texas, San Antonio.

 

The NSD Texas Institute takes place July 15-28 and is located at the University of Houston. Easily accessible from both Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport, the University of Houston provides a central location for students all over Texas and beyond to come together to work in an inclusive environment designed to help them succeed on the Texas circuit. 

NSD provides students with Lunch and Dinner services. Students will be able to get snack and sundries throughout the day in the dorm at the many active campus markets, located in the dorms, libraries and classroom buildings. Breakfast food is not provided by NSD. Students and staff should bring granola bars, pop tarts, cereal, fruit and other ready-to-eat breakfast food to campus with them. Additional food can be purchased at the campus mini mart stores as needed. 

Student Supervision is provided by NSD Institute Directors, Administrative Staff and Faculty. Students are expected to attend all activities unless they are feeling unwell, in which case they should contact our Institute Directors, Chris Castillo and Jenn Miller-Melin. Attendance is monitored by staff. There is roll call in the morning and room checks at midnight.

General security is provided by the University of Houston Police Department as well as the 24-hour dorm staff.

Computer access and internet are available. We strongly encourage students to bring their own laptops.

There will be Free Day midway through camp. There are no classes until after dinner. Staff will provide students with the options of attending supervised outings to museums, movies, or local Houston attractions. Students can also choose to stay close to campus and take advantage of campus resources. 

 

NSD Texas is accepting applications now!

NSD Texas (7/15 - 7/28): $2,695

Late registration is open until spots are filled. All of our sessions have filled up faster than ever- make sure you register soon! 

When you apply, you will be creating membership in a portal which will be our gateway to communicating with you for the rest of camp. You will not need to fill out detailed medical information or debate experience in the initial registration, that will come later! Over the course of the spring, we will ask for additional information from you in order to best tailor camp to your needs.

Click here to apply now!

 

We understand that sometimes it isn’t possible to attend camp for the full two weeks. If you have a conflict or would like to discuss attending camp for a subset of time, please email info@nationalsymposiumfordebate.com.


We value our ability to make camp accessible to those who wish to attend. If you would like to apply for financial aid, please email info@nationalsymposiumfordebate.com for more information. You will be asked to provide information supporting your application, including 1040 tax forms.Financial Aid applications are due May 1st, but the earlier the better.