Near the end of January, Crescenta Valley High School speech and debate teacher Shannon Marshall gave students the option to compete in the ACSA – Association of California School Administrators – (Region XV “Keep Calm and Lead On”) speech competition.
Students were tasked with writing and presenting a speech based off this year’s prompt as an in-class assignment, but they could also use it to compete if they wanted to.
There were multiple levels of competition. The first competition was held at the school-level, and only three students would be picked to move forward from it. From this competition, CVHS judges chose Will Bleveans, Naomi Vakharia and Brett Tyler.
The next competition was held at the district level, and only one student would be picked to move forward. The competition was held on Feb. 24 in the Carlson Fellowship Hall at the Glendale First United Methodist Church. There were 12 different competitors from GUSD high schools. Tyler won this competition and moved on to the Region XV student oratory contest.
The Region XV student oratory contest was the final level of competition. Here 24 students came from all over Los Angeles County who had won at their school and district levels. At this final level, only six students would be named finalists and receive a $500 scholarship, while everyone else who competed would receive a $100 scholarship for achieving that level.
The competition was held at the American Legion Hall in Pasadena to a full house.
Upon entering, each student competitor checked-in and picked a random ticket to determine their order. They also each received a “stress-pack” that contained a pack of gum and a candy bar.
The event began with introductions, then the students were told that one of the scholarship donors made it possible for each of the six finalists’ $500 scholarships would be doubled to $1,000.
“It was really interesting to see how each student interpreted the same prompt in their own way,” Tyler said as the speeches began. “One potential problem I realized was ‘blocking.’ Every presentation before this I had given my speech on a stage and mapped out precise movements to match the speech accordingly. But at the [American Legion Hall] there was a podium with a microphone taking up the center. So while the speakers before me presented, I calculated new movements and blocking for my speech. When finally it was my turn to speech, there was a definite and wonderful sense of everything coming together exactly as I had practiced it.”
After all the speeches were over there was an intermission. The students could finally relax and get to know each other.
“Everybody I met was very nice, and it was great to have a chance to break the ice and get to know these fellow students,” he said.
The finalists were announced and Tyler learned he was one of the six. The others were Tiffany Yan-Lin Liu of Glen A Wilson High School, Jill Young of Saugus High School, Elaine Huang of Arroyo High School, John Pointer of John Muir High School and Aneliza Carmen Ruiz of Pioneer High School.