Speech, Debate team scores impressive placings, 3 qualified for state

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Speech, Debate team scores impressive placings, 3 qualified for state

Adesuwa Viadex, Staff Reporter

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The debater turns to face the wall and takes a deep breath before starting to talk rapidly to herself, moving her hands to express her words. To non-debaters, she would look beyond crazy, but she’s not the only one in the hallway talking to a wall. About a dozen other students from different schools, clad in black, gray, and even red suits pace the hall, practicing their pieces in low voices. A quiet murmur fills the small hallway as the competitors prepare to enter their rounds, all with the intent of making it to semi-finals.

The Speech and Debate Team attended their first tournament at George Ranch on August 31st, the first week of school. Many of the debaters made it to finals, as well as Alexis Shamburg, placing first in an event at the George Ranch tournament. Her long journey of going to State had finally ended as she reached a goal that every committed debater strived to reach.

Alexis Shamburg, senior and varsity member on the Speech and Debate
Team, qualifies for state at the second tournament of the year.

Mia Wallace
Alexis Shamburg, senior and varsity member on the Speech and Debate
Team, qualifies for state at the second tournament of the year.

“I was thrilled. I qualified for State for the first time at my second tournament in 2005, so I felt a large connection with [Alexis],” Regina Jennings, head debate coach, said.

The debate team attends about 8-10 tournaments every year, the number varies every school year. A student qualifies for state by attending a tournament and placing in the finals round at least twice. They must earn twelve state points, and the number of students varies each year.

“[At State,] the atmosphere [was] so intense and it was a very stressful time. However, that stress I find, is the most exhilarating thing and it brings out the best in me,” Joseph Flores, senior and varsity debater, said.

The Speech side of debate consists of performing poetry, prose, and short plays, as well as two-person plays known as Duet and Duo. The Debate side includes written speeches, extemporaneous speaking, and planned out cases. Most of these events require preparation and even time after school, as debaters need to memorize and practice their pieces in advance.

“[My favorite part about being a debater is] using my speaking abilities outside of the tournament,” Flores said. “I feel like I have the confidence to speak to a group of people and know I can deliver and get my point across.” he said.

Kayleigh Kopesky
In the debate room Joseph Flores, senior, prepares material for the tournament.

The top three finalists in every event usually receive trophies depending on what tournament they go to. Sometimes an entire debate team wins a Sweepstakes trophy at the end of the tournament, depending on the ranking of all the members.

“I think the most important lesson is all of my “[lessons with Jennings]”. It is not all about the trophies, but the transferable skills a student learns,” Jennings said.

Most tournaments occur on weekends, ending late at night on Fridays, and starting early the next morning on Saturdays. Rounds, preliminaries, and even semi-finals can take place on Fridays, while finals get saved for Saturdays. The upcoming tournament at Woodlands High School will be held on November 16th and 17th.

Tournament results have been impressive.

At the Foster and George Ranch tournament Aaron Deville placed third in dramatic interpretation and Brian Lam was a finalist in Oratory and Prose. Alexis Shamburg was a finalist in Informative. At George Ranch Sam Gross was a finalist in Domestic Extemp, Ashley Siloran was a finalist in Poetry and Alexis placed 1st in Informative.

At the Cy Lakes tournament on October 27, Samuel Gross placed first in Domestic Extemp and a finalist in Impromptu. Ashley Siloran placed fourth in Poetry and fourth in Program of Oral Interpretation. Brian Lam placed second in Oratory and second in Informative. CJ Ortiz was a finalist in Novice Extemp. Colton Aumann and Rajjat Jha placed first in Novice Public Forum. Rajjat was also a top speaker in public forum debate.

At the Woodlands tournament In Impromptu Sam Gross was a finalist and Andrew Lay placed third. In Domestic Extemp Joseph Flores placed first. In Informative Brian Lam placed second. Brian also placed second in Oratory. In Poetry Arleth Amaya was a finalist, Aaron Deville placed fourth and Ashley Siloran placed first. In Prose Amari Harris was a finalist. In Dramatic Aaron Deville placed second. In Humorous Arleth Amaya placed first. Adithi Reddy and Emily Rodriguez won second place Novice Public Forum. The team overall won second place sweepstakes. Aaron Deville and Brian Lam both qualified for the State Tournament in March.