By Faith Oak
On Friday March 9 and Saturday March 10, Granada Hills Charter’s (GHC) Speech and Debate Team competed in the Tri-County Forensics League (TCFL) State Qualifying Tournament at Burbank High School.
Within the TCFL, which is composed of schools throughout the counties of Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura, a limited number of people were allowed to advance to compete at the state level. Out of the 23 events the team prepared for, it qualified in twelve.
The competition was a lengthy process. In order to qualify for state, students had to “break,” or advance, through three stages within their events. The competition began with three regular rounds, during which the judges determined whether or not they would move on. The students who broke to the next round of semifinals then competed in order to advance to the final rounds.
The students who qualified were seniors Andrew Orellana in Dramatic Interpretation, Julia Kirkpatrick in Thematic Interpretation, and Timothy Meyer in Original Oratory; sophomores Diego Borgsdorf and Elizabeth Luchinski in Duo Interpretation, Sahar Dabirian in Impromptu, and Sarah Shapiro in Expository; and freshman Cassidy Dalva in National Extemporaneous.
On March 9, the tournament started from 4:45 p.m. and ended around 9:30 p.m. The following day, students competed from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.
Each person who qualified was only allowed to advance in one event. Although the team qualified in twelve separate events, some students competed in multiple events, so the team can only take eight to state.
“When I found out that I advanced to the final round of Dramatic Interpretation, I couldn’t believe it. I have never advanced to the final round at a state qualifying tournament. When awards started, I didn’t even care where I placed. I could feel all of the hard work I put into my performance finally paying off,” Orellana said.
State championships will be held at Schurr High School in Montebello on Friday, April 20. To practice, students individualize their methods of memorizing and speaking based on their personal preference and what they have found to work best for them.
“A typical practice session for me involves picking a random question related to current events, taking 30 minutes to draft a response, then memorizing the speech before presenting it. I am also preparing by staying updated on current events via a practice known as ‘filing’- saving articles onto my Chromebook to refer to in rounds while drafting speeches,” Dalva said.
At school, the team prepares by conducting peer-coaching sessions, during which they give one another constructive criticism. They have also been receiving guidance from coach and English teacher Rachael Phipps. The team is hopeful for what the next competition holds.
“I love Speech because it gives me a voice. It gives me ten minutes to distance myself from the troubles of life and to just perform my heart out. My current DI discusses the fear we gay males face every day. I’m not just doing this for myself. I want to make my coaches proud, my team, my parents, my community,” Orellana said.