On December 21st, Valencia High School’s speech and debate club members, along with teams from other schools and organizations, gathered at Granada Hills Charter High School for the TCFL (Tri-Valley Forensic League) speech competition. High school students performed pieces they had prepared and were each ranked for their performance in each category. One of Valencia High School’s, VHS’, students, Chloe Gill, even went home with a trophy for winning first place for her Humorous Interpretation.
However, these competitions are not about winning the prize, they are about learning from others. Another VHS student, Divya Somysetty, experienced her first speech and debate competition at this event. She stated “I learned so much, just from watching other people present their own speeches. I think I actually improved each round because I picked up some skills the others showed.” This goes to show how competitions can be a learning experience and help people improve.
It is true that competitive tournaments, such as TCFL, are not for everyone, but speech and debate itself can be very beneficial. Raina Sidhu, another member from VHS’ club, explained that “speech and debate has expanded [her] perspective and encouraged [her] to explore contemporary political and social issues, as well as develop critical thinking skills, and overall confidence.” According to speech and debate coach of 19 years and past president of the Texas Speech Communication Association, participating in speech and debate helps with “skills in research, critical thinking, organization, persuasion and communication” as well as “confidence in speaking situations, spontaneity in interviews, improved writing in other courses, diverse perspectives. These skills also benefit the student after high school.”
Speech and debate often requires people’s minds to start running; from having to analyze topics and cases or memorize a self-written speech. However, it can also physically help people. Enunciation, acting skills, and even the way one stands or gestures, are all improvements one can make.
If speech and debate was provided to all students, it may be very helpful to them and their futures. In many schools, speech and debate is not available as a class, therefore, students often join a club or an outside team. Understanding how important speech and debate can be is something unknown to many, and making it more known can spark potential interest and result in better students and eventually people in society.
Jasmine Jhun, Grade 9
Valencia High Schoo