By Diana Kesablyan
Speech and Debate are often perceived as a singular unit. Always phrased together, we rarely hear anyone mention one without the other. Although both teach students communication skills, the two are undoubtedly different.
Speech is focused around honing the student’s public speaking presence on all platforms. It aims to build confidence as well as to create effective public speakers who can use persuasive skills and rhetoric to win over an audience. It additionally contains components of writing and research as Speech Team members must write persuasive speeches.
Though much of the tasks are individual, there is one big team with students who choose their areas of interest and expand upon their knowledge through their involvement as a Speech member.
“I often see students who begin as terrified wallflowers when they walk in who blossom into incredibly dynamic confident speakers when they walk out. Watching these kids discovering their voices is the most rewarding thing as a coach. They use these skills for the rest of their lives which is incredibly rewarding,” English teacher and Speech Coach Rachael Phipps said.
Constantly working, the Speech Team continues to compete with other schools, entering nationals each year. All this hard work seems to pay off as the Granada Hills Charter (GHC) Speech Team has produced a number of successful public speakers. Granada alumnus Cassidy Dalva, a current Stanford freshman, was titled the top seventh speaker in the nation during her time at GHC.
“The Speech Team is a tightly knit community of students who love public speaking and advocacy. My fondest memory of Speech was during my novice year, the night before the tournament. We practiced walking in our heels and dress shoes all over campus. We improved our posture, steps, and most importantly, our confidence. That experience taught me how confidence is the best thing I can have on my side in any tournament or unfamiliar environment,” varsity member and junior Madison Wong said.
In contrast with the individual and personal approach to public speaking that Speech provides, Debate is much more argumentative and competitive.
“Unlike Speech, debaters compete one-on-one with their opponents in each round. You either win or lose. The goal is to have a winning record in the prelims to have a chance to advance in the elimination rounds. For Speech, you’re up against 6 other people per round and the goal is to place first to third in every round to have a chance of advancing to the elimination rounds,” English teacher and Debate Coach Jerome Robinson said.
With countless achievements, such as those in the Long Beach Speech & Debate Tournament and the TCFL Novice Debate, the GHC Debate team has proved their ability to generate well-spoken people who are able to establish and win arguments pertaining to meaningful issues.
“I believe Debate has taught me to look beyond what is stated in the text. I feel that I’m now able to make better analyses to prove my point. It has definitely helped improve my speaking skills as well,” senior Brigitte Sorto Chavez said.
At the end of the day, what Speech and Debate have in common is that they both teach students how to be confident and effective communicators.