by Melody Young
On February 19 and 20, the Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) debate team competed in the state qualifying tournament. On March and 4, the GHCHS speech team also competed in its own state qualifying tournament.
The debate team competed in the Lincoln-Douglas (LD), public forum, and parliamentary events. In the LD event, seven GHCHS debaters competed against 48 other debaters from the Tri County Forensic League (TCFL). Three GHCHS LD debaters reached the final round, all placing within the top ten. Senior Nicholas Genna, who placed second, will continue on to the state tournament. Although the GHCHS public forum and parliamentary units did not qualify for the state championship, they performed very well, placing tenth and fourteenth, respectively, in the league.
“The competition was very difficult. As debate captain, I had no expectations, but we had three people get to the final round and one person qualify. Three people qualifying for state championship is great. I was happy with the results,” debate captain and junior Vikas Chauhan said.
For most of the debate team, mandatory practices are over. Genna will compete at the state championship, and several debaters will compete at the national qualifying tournament.
“It’s been a good year. These are the best officers I’ve had in awhile. We’ve done well in the competitions. I look forward to next year; I think that next year’s team is going to be even better,” speech and debate advisor Jerome Robinson said.
Of all the tournaments the team competed in, Chauhan said that the University of California, Berkeley Invitational and the Taft High School Tournament were the highlights of this year’s season. At the Berkeley invitational, six GHCHS debaters went on to the final rounds, and two of them finished in the top 10 of the 166 attending debaters. The debaters also did well at the Taft tournament. Three GHCHS debaters brought home certificates; three LD debaters won trophies; and the public forum duo also brought home trophies.
The novice debaters produced outstanding results at the California State University, Fullerton Invitational. Eight of eleven novice debaters passed the preliminary rounds and competed well in the final rounds. One of the eight went to the final round.
The speech team sent eleven speakers to compete in eight of the twelve events. GHCHS speakers advanced to the semifinal round in seven of the eight events they participated in, and four speakers placed in the top ten of their respective events in the final round.
Senior Aaron Rubanowitz placed fourth in the Dramatic Interpretation (DI) event; juniors Gurbir Singh and Nikhil Chakravarty placed second and third, respectively, in the Original Advocacy (OA) event; and sophomore Ruth Okonkwo placed eighth in the Original Oratory (OO) event. All four speakers will compete in the state championship.
In addition, Singh placed third in the Impromptu event, and Chakravarty placed fifth in the OO event. However, both yielded their places in those events for their places in the OA event.
The team’s performance at the state qualifying tournament was a great start to the last stretch of the season; state qualifiers is the first of the last four league competitions. However, the outstanding results were no surprise as the team has done well all season.
The three main speech competitions of this year’s season were the Granada, Monroe, and Burbank tournaments. Singh and Rubanowitz placed first in OA and DI, respectively, in the Granada and Monroe tournaments. In the Burbank tournament, Chakravarty placed first in OA, and Singh placed second in Impromptu. The speakers’ wins at the Monroe tournament were great accomplishments since the tournament included more competitors from outside the league. In addition, the results from the Granada and Burbank tournaments helped the team establish dominance in the TCFL league rankings.
“Considering that the speech team runs very independently, we have done pretty well. We won a few awards and did well in the tournaments. Everyone has been improving; that in itself is a feat,” Singh said.