Speech and debate team starts off season at ‘successful’ tournament


Photo credit: Bear Allen-Blaine

SPEECH AND DEBATE TEAM. Jessica Tuchin, Aniyah Shirehjini, Anna Brodsky. Back: Maddie Fenster, Lena Jones, Rachel Azrialy, Kylie Chryss-Connel, Grace Carter, Ava Rothenberg.

Terrified, yet exhilarated. These are the words freshman Lily Kerner used to described how she felt about getting on stage and giving an impromptu speech.

Archer’s speech and debate team competed in their first tournament of this school year on Saturday, Nov. 10. The tournament, hosted by the Western Bay Forensics League, was located at South High School in Torrance.

“When I first started coaching here, the team only competed in a public forum [debate], and now we’re competing in a bunch of individual [speech] events,” Bear Allen-Blaine, the speech and debate team adviser, said. ‘They’re interpreting other people’s published works [and] they’re exploring a gamut of events that speech and debate has to offer.”

According to sophomore Kylie Chryss-Connell, the speech tournaments work similar to track tournaments. Each individual competes in a different category of speech. Some of the main categories for speeches are Original Prose and Poetry, Original Advocacy, Original Oratory, Humorous Interpretation, Impromptu Speaking, Extemporaneous Speaking and Dramatic Interpretation.

“I am most looking forward to our team exploring new opportunities and competing and in different events,” Allen-Blaine said about her hopes for the speech and debate team this year.

Five of the competitors took home six trophies. Three of the six girls placed in original events where they wrote their own speeches, while the other two placed in interpretation events.

Connell performed a condensed version of “Breaking Night,” a memoir chronicling the tumultuous teenage years of a homeless girl who secured admission to Harvard. Despite the fact that this was Connell’s first time competing in the Dramatic Interpretation event, she placed first in the league.

“I like dramatic interpretation a lot better; it has a lot more of an acting element to it,” Connell said.

According to Connell, the team environment is competitive and members of the club take it seriously but that they are able to enjoy their time together, and she feels that they have taken the speech and debate club “to a whole other level” this year.

“[Our club] is super closely bonded because of how often we meet and because of how seriously we take [speech and debate],” Connell said. “The tournaments are really long, so it provides a lot of opportunities to bond with other people.”

Both Allen-Blaine and Connell believe that speech and debate provides students with life skills that will benefit them in many aspects of life.

“Speech and debate is a such an influential team in the sense that it provides you with so many life skills that you can use no matter what field you end up going into in your life,” Connell said.

The team will also be competing in two more speech tournaments before winter break.

“Our first speech tournament went extremely well, our girls were very prepared — they went in hungry,” Allen-Blaine said. “They competed at the highest level and we were very successful. I was super proud. I cried.”