Recently the Crescenta Valley High School speech and debate team kicked off its season by attending the Icebreaker Tournament at Gabrielino High School. It was a very good start to their year, too, as CVHS students placed first, third, seventh and 10th overall in the competition that involved 616 students from schools across Los Angeles County.
The Icebreaker Tournament is unique among the speech and debate tournaments as it has events and structuring that are specific to only that tournament. The four distinctive events are improvisational duo, SPAR. (spontaneous argument), radio interview and character debate. Through each of these events, participants compete in pairs, which makes the tournament an opportunity for more experienced varsity members to teach novices about speech and debate basics.
In the first event of the tournament, improvisational duo, each pair acts out a scene, which they have selected from three choices. But once a pair selects a topic, for example, “A math teacher substitutes for a drama teacher,” team members have only one minute to prepare before they act out the up to five-minute scene. The amount of preparation for every event at this tournament is only one minute, which puts the emphasis on improvisational skills.
For the second event, SPAR, a pair debates against another from a different school. Topics included subjects such as, “Los Angeles should be the capital of California.” Speakers were expected to think quickly on their feet, not only to establish their own contentions, but also for discrediting their opponents’ reasons.
Next was the radio interview that is similar to improvisational duo, except that the pair is seated and the scene is structured like an interview. Competitors were given vague topics like, “You are interviewing a famous inventor,” and it was up to team members to create the scene and characters.
The final competition was character debate, which combined the merits of improvisational duo and SPAR. Two pairs from different schools had to debate topics like, “L.A.’s freeways are safe and fun,” while staying in character, such as “cheerleader.” This led to hilarious moments for those watching as the competitors had to delicately balance between making their characters as believable as possible while giving valid argumentation.
After the four rounds were over, the scores were tallied. Students talked with each other about the highlights and unforgettable moments of their rounds. But the attention of all was immediately captured when the resounding call of “Awards!” was made.
Everyone packed into Gabrielino’s Gym and waited patiently for the awards ceremony to begin. After thanking everyone for attending, the names of the 12 overall winners were announced by the organizers. Crescenta Valley placed well overall: Elin Aboolian and Naomi Vakharia placed 10th, Alexis Beatty and Joshua Choi took seventh, Brett B. Tyler and Leo Liu placed third. These announcements brought cheers from CVHS supporters. But it was the announcement of the winning pair of Tyra Sondergaard and Daniela Romero from Crescenta Valley High School that brought everyone to their feet to the sound of thunderous applause.
In the spirit of the tournament’s pirate theme, Sondergaard and Romero were given pirate skull trophies and adorned with pirate hats, as well as some Icebreaker mints for the tournament’s namesake. Particularly impressive was that Sondergaard and Romero were novices; this was their first speech and debate tournament.
High-fives and hugs and words of congratulation were exchanged, although many of the winners were in disbelief over how well they did.
Contributed by Brett B. TYLER