News from Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Fla.

Speech and debate members work for the future

Speech and Debate represents a diverse body of students of all grades. For many of the students, it has given them to opportunity to be a part of a team and improve upon their speaking skills

April 2, 2017

A bang of the gavel signifies the beginning of a speech and debate meeting as club presidents launch into announcements about competition details. There is talk of payments and T-shirt sales, but the focus of room is on one thing only, practicing for the upcoming competition.

Roaming the halls after dismissal, you’ll often find speech and debate kids gathered outside Room 531, reading their speeches aloud and offering judgment to others. “Typically we bring some sort of speech and present it during practices to other so we can get criticism and feedback,” sophomore Brandon Smith said.

The speech aspect of the club requires students to write or select a piece to read aloud. Speech competitions include extemporaneous speech, literary interpretation and dramatic performance (DP). The dramatic performance can be humorous or serious, giving participants the choice.

The other section of the club, debate, offers competitions like the public forum and policy debate, along with the Lincoln-Douglas debate in which students debate values and philosophy. Freshman Hirsh Kabaria, along with many others, favors Student Congress in which competitors prepare legislation, or drafts of laws on specific issues, and participate in parliamentary debate. “I joined because I like debating and I have an interest in the legislative process,” Kabaria said.

Juniors Dayan Visozo and Tiffany Nguyen teamed up this year to take part in another event called Duo Interpretation, in which two participants choose a selection of literature and act it out as one or more characters. The pair explained that they must act out a scene with no props or costumes. “Those 10 minutes when we’re performing, we don’t have to worry about technique and everything, we just run around and have fun,” Visozo said.

Speech and debate is not just for those with a love of public speaking. In fact, many say they joined to gain courage and perfect their skills. “When we had to do our English orals it was very helpful for me to have that confidence built up over the past few years,” Visozo said. Other members, like Smith and Nguyen, joined because they heard about the club from an older sibling and were interested. Once they found their place in the club, they found that they really enjoyed it.

No matter what led them to join, many members of speech and debate agree on one thing: they are surrounded by good company, including both those they are competing with and those they are competing against. “Just working together with everybody and having a little community that understands what it’s like,” Nguyen said of her favorite part of the club.

Members said although it may get competitive at times, they are in a friendly atmosphere. ”We work to see others succeed and we all try to help each other out,” Kabaria said.

The speech and debate team travels to several competitions a year, including local competitions once a month, Grand Finals, Nationals, and Blue Key, which is also a semi-national competition.

“The practices are good, but the competitions are the best. There are a lot of good people there and it’s a fun, competitive time,” Smith said.

The remainder of the time they spend diligently practicing their speeches, drafting legislation or preparing to debate; giving them various opportunities to express their voice.

“Speech and debate is good for building up confidence in public speaking [and] becoming more articulate,” Smith said

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