Fork Union Military Academy announces that Cadet Joshua James Henriques earned a fourth place finish in the Student Congress category at the Virginia Catholic Forensics League (VCFL) state debate tournament held at Eastern View High School in Culpeper County, Virginia on March 11, 2017. His finish in the top four qualifies him to move on to compete in the national tournament sponsored by the National Catholic Forensics League (NCFL) to be held Memorial Day weekend in Louisville, Kentucky. At the state tournament, his fourth place finish, along with first- and third-place respective finishes by fellow cadets Michael Head and William Pessaud, helped propel the Fork Union Military Academy debate team to a first place finish in the Student Congress category and a third-place overall team finish at the state meet.
“Joshua just missed a top-five finish last year at states, which would have qualified him for nationals. He was disappointed, but I think he used that disappointment as a motivating factor this year,” said Mike Goad, Fork Union Military Academy’s debate coach.
The Student Congress category is run much like the House or Senate chamber, wherein students debate bills submitted by each school on specific current events topics identified by the VCFL. Two sessions of legislative debate lasting two hours each are completed at each meet. Over the course of the two sessions, Cadet Henriques delivered speeches on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, dissolution of the Department of Education, the One-China Policy, and US-Vietnam Relations/the Paris Climate Agreement.
Team points are accumulated in three debate categories: Student Congress, Public Forum, and Lincoln-Douglas. Fork Union had cadets competing in only two of the three categories: Student Congress and Public Forum. The three schools accumulating the most individual points in these three categories get to take home a sweepstakes trophy from the state tournament.
“Our goal this year was to ‘trophy’ at states,” said Goad. “We wanted to bring home the hardware. The schools we compete against have much larger student bodies, making it easier for them to disperse talented students in all three categories of debate, so we knew it would be a difficult task. Our chances to ‘trophy’ were contingent on having at least three cadets place in the top-six of Student Congress, as the top-six finishers accrue overall points for the team. Without Joshua’s fourth place finish, it is very likely that we could have fallen short of bringing home one of those three sweepstakes trophies. Joshua knew he had to finish in the top five for us to achieve our goals as a team, and he did just that,” said Goad.
Henriques humbly gave credit to his teammates and God following his state meet success, saying, “It was a huge team effort. A lot of great leadership was shown from the entire team. I thank God for the opportunity to compete and be successful. Hopefully the skills that I am perfecting will help my aspirations for the future.”
“I am really looking forward to having Joshua back as a member of the debate team next year,” said debate team coach Mike Goad. “I think his success at states this year will propel him to a strong season next year—an individual state championship is not out of the question for him.”
Henriques has been accepted to the Summer Seminar at the U.S. Naval Academy, as well as the Summer Leaders Program at West Point, and he hopes to attend one of these academies upon graduating from Fork Union Military Academy in 2018.
Cadet Henriques, a junior, is the son of Miguel and Pauline Henriques of West Nyack, New York. He has attended Fork Union Military Academy since August 2013 when he enrolled as an eighth grader.