Speech, Debate Teams Close Year on High Note

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By Joyce LEE

The novice members of CVHS speech and debate team showcased their speech and debate dexterities for the last time in the 2013-14 school year at the Speech and Debate Novice Champs on May 16 and May 17. It was the last tournament of the school year and provided a measure of how much the novices grew and improved over the course of the year. Schools from various districts competed, such as Arcadia High School, San Gabriel High School and Gabrielino High School.

The debate competition was held at California High School in Whittier. The categories included student congress, parliamentary debate, public forum, Lincoln-Douglas, and policy debate.

Congress debate mimics the style of the U.S. Congress, as it involves an entire room of speakers who each have a certain amount of time to speak and to answer questions from other students. Lincoln-Douglas debate is a one-on-one debate, requiring extensive research about an ethical issue. Parliamentary debate mimics the style of Britain’s parliament, emphasizing spontaneous thinking and speaking in which two teams of two students only have limited time to prepare for their resolutions before competing. Policy debate is the longest team debate, lasting 90 minutes with the students having the resolution at the start of the year. Public forum is another team debate, in which the resolution comes out a month before competition and involves short speeches with a lot of evidence and direct cross fire, or Q&A, between the competitors.

Students were excused from their sixth periods to arrive at the tournament on time, with registration at 3 p.m. and round one at 4 p.m. Unfortunately the heavy traffic caused several students to arrive late and forfeit the first round of debate.

Although the competition started off on a discouraging note, it progressed with each round. In the blistering heat, the competitors had to prepare their cases wearing heavy suits. Despite these challenges, four teams from CVHS prevailed. Cameron Tenner, sophomore, and Brendan Caver, freshman, won fourth place for parliamentary debate. Sunho Yoon and Ariel Rezazedeh, both sophomores, won sixth place for parliamentary debate. Nicholas Mayer and Alexander DeRoche won sixth place for public forum debate.

“My partner, Cameron, and I put in a lot of work for preparation and worked hard during all of our rounds [parliamentary debate]. By the end of the day, we were both exhausted, but we were overjoyed to have gotten recognized,” novice member Caver said.

The speech competition took place on May 17 at Gabrielino High School in San Gabriel. The events were divided into three categories: interpretative, spontaneous and original. The interpretative events included interpretations in humor, drama, thematic, oratorical and duo. This style of speaking give students the opportunity to showcase their acting skills, as all scripts are derived from books, plays, or movies.

The spontaneous events consisted of impromptu speaking and national and international extemporaneous speaking. The original events included original advocacy, original oratory, and expository. These speeches allowed for students to flaunt their creative writing skills as they are entirely student produced.

Students arrived at 7 a.m. at Gabrielino High School for registration and round one started at 8 am. Despite the students’ fatigue, three CVHS teams moved onto the final round. Joyce Lee and Grace Oh, both juniors, won sixth place for their duo interpretation of “A Very Clean Place’ by Gale Mena and John Peat. Nicholas Mayer, junior, won sixth place for international extemporaneous speech. Mitchell Bayless, sophomore, won seventh place with  his humorous interpretation of “Finding Ryan” by Dave Cameron.

“I played the role of Benji, an older brother who is diagnosed with Down syndrome and leukemia. At first, it was difficult for me to think of creative facial expressions, voice and motions. But as my partner and I practiced more, I naturally transitioned into this character. It was an unforgettable experience and I will never forget Benji,” novice member and junior, Grace Oh said.

While the novice members competed, the CVHS varsity members judged the rounds of both speech and debate events. The judges have the role of determining the relative ranking of each round of competition. To judge the final round, a varsity member must have qualified in either state or nationals tournament in the event they are judging. In terms of ethics, the varsity member must be able to look beyond school biases and to give their full attention to the students. Furthermore, they must provide helpful critiques on each of the contestants’ critique sheets.

“I was able to judge a good majority of the rounds, so I did see students from a variety of schools. What sets our CVHS team members apart from other school teams is that they pour a lot of their personalities into the speeches,” said varsity member and junior Chelsea Lee. “It is a kind of a vulnerability that makes our students charming.”

For some varsity members, this competition marked the last for the seniors graduating earlier this month.

“For me, it was a sort of last hurrah. This was the last major competition with most of our team, so I wanted to take the opportunity to appreciate the company of some of my best friends at a competition one last time,” said CVHS speech captain and senior Jacob Wisda. ‘More than anything else, I was proud to see how independent and skilled our novice team has become.”