You will be hard-pressed to find an academic enterprise that requires more preparation and determination than Speech and Debate. The multi-faceted activity demands the constant practice of an assortment of special skills: researching various topics, critical thinking, organizing information, writing speeches, public speaking, and planning for all contingencies-- just to name a few.
English Teacher Susan Moore currently instructs the LCHS course and coaches the team. As she explained, “It is a National Speech and Debate Association Honor Society (NSDA). We are actually part of the Southern California Debate League, the West Los Angeles Speech and Debate League, and part of the national circuit.”
This year, she is assisted by two co-presidents Sonya K. and Alex Z., who are in charge of administration for the team, and one speech captain Chris M., who is in charge of all public speaking events.
Recently, Sonya and Chris took some time to share some insider information about the team.
How do people join speech and debate?
Sonya: “Tryouts for the following year are held in April. Members will attend a few practices over the summer. Currently, there are over 80 people involved with the team, including Mrs. Moore’s class. If you are a student in her class, you have to be on the team; however, you can also join the team without being in the class. You can participate for multiple years.”
How do you prepare for competitions?
Sonya: “We work with coaches to decide on speech events and practice drills for debate events. We have practices twice a week after school on Wednesdays and Fridays.”
Chris: To prepare, we try to scrimmage with other local schools so that we can collaborate and keep everyone accountable. Additionally, we find that listening to music as a team is a great way to calm our nerves before a round at the tournament.
How do participants qualify to compete in the upcoming state and national tournaments?
Chris: We will soon be participating in the State Qualifying Tournament, for both Speech and Debate. Generally, you need to place in the top 4 or 5 out of roughly 40 kids to go to State Championships.
What makes your speech and debate team strong?
Sonya: “We are all very expressive and have different ways of communicating with each other from various analytics to emotional expression. We have the whole spectrum of what a good speaker and debater looks like represented by everyone. It’s a diverse range of personalities.”
Chris: La Canada is a school known for incredibly talented students-both academically and extracurricularly. So I think it helps that we have access to such an amazing student body.
How has being on the speech and debate team been beneficial for you as an individual?
Sonya: “Before I was on the speech and debate team, I had so much passion but couldn’t direct it anywhere. When I got into speech and debate, I had a way to express it and to learn about global issues, care about global issues, and advocate for global issues.”
Chris: “Because I do more speech than debate, I get to choose my own topics, and I can tell people my position on certain issues and have an audience for it. It’s great to advocate for something you really believe in.”
How would you describe Mrs. Moore as a speech and debate coach?
Sonya: “She is more committed than we could ever ask for.”
There is no doubt that Mrs. Moore is an essential force behind their success. Over President’s Day weekend, select members attended the prestigious Cal Invitational at UC Berkeley, one of the most competitive speech and debate events in the nation. The participants went in hopes of receiving bids to attend the Tournament of Champions, also known as “The Super Bowl of Debate.”
According to Mrs. Moore, “Chris M. received a bid in Original Oratory for the Tournament of Champions and Alex Z. received his seventh TOC bid in Lincoln Douglas.”