Speech and Debate’s First Tournament of the Year


Courtesy of Speech and Debate

Ashley Kim, Staff Writer

   The last Saturday of September marked Speech and Debate’s first tournament of the year, hosted at West High. With a team of thirty-five, West’s senators snagged several places and awards, making a successful start to the year.

   Following the competition, Shrutika Ezhil (10), a varsity member in her second year, commented, “I’m feeling pretty good about it, especially since it’s hosted here at West High…we feel at home.”

   Congress is just one of the three modes of competition that Speech and Debate participates in. As a cross between both speeches and debating, Congress provides a unique opportunity for contestants to practice their writing and delivery as well as argumentative skills.  Every Congress round is based on a bill in which the student senators give 3-minute speeches in support or opposition to the bill. They are ranked based on both the content of their speeches and the quality of delivery.

   Varsity member Lindsey Kim (12) described the process of preparing for Congress, beginning with research: “Find out what exactly the bill entails, what its background is, if there’s any legislation that’s been like it before, how it impacts the US, or even other nations, if it is implemented,” she said.  “You need evidence, so you need facts to back up your arguments.”

   Additionally, an announcement preceding the awards ceremony established a new opportunity for Speech and Debate students: from now on, they are able to write and submit their own bills to debate in Congress.

   “This has never been implemented before,” Kim said.  “When bills are more interesting, Congress is more interesting.  It’s more fun to debate.”

   With high hopes for the upcoming Congress tournaments, Kim, along with most members of the team, hope to make it to the state-level competition. As a goal that most students aim for, competition to qualify is fierce.

   “Go to state ― that’s the biggest goal that I have,” varsity member Bhaavana Anna (10) said, who hopes to qualify in speech, as opposed to Congress or debate.  “I’m trying to improve in putting pure emotion into my pieces. This year I wrote my pieces, so I feel like a lot of emotions and a lot of true experiences were put into it.”

   But regardless of the team’s high ambitions, Speech and Debate is more than winning: it’s about growing as a speaker, a writer, and a thinker.  Despite the challenges it poses as a competitive, time-consuming venture, it’s given members invaluable skills in public speaking, debating, and speech writing.

   Anna shared, “I’ve gotten more comfortable to be up and out there: putting [out] ideas that I actually love and not something that would sound like a broken record.”

   Ultimately, the Speech and Debate team looks forward to the rest of the year, as they will continue preparing, competing, and working hard.