Speech and Debate Goes to State Qualifier!


Lilian Chong, Staff Writer

After a recent debate tournament occurred on Mar. 7 at San Marino High School, our debate team left many schools marveled by our team’s talent. Scattered among the three different genres of debate, which were Public Forum (PF) debate, Parliamentary (Parli) debate, and Congressional debate (Congress), our fellow Apaches were able to represent the school’s team as a diverse, victorious selection. Let’s take a look into some of the debate tournament’s events and our competitors.  

The diligent work by these Apaches should be recognized as they represented the school with a triumphant Division 1 sweepstakes! Sacrificing hours and days for practices, 20 members from our debate team were collectively able to present their exceptional speeches. Though the tournament was considerably long with three ongoing rounds for each debate, our Apaches did an outstanding job preparing, arguing, and enunciating their points. 

The Public Forum debate topic sparked controversy as some of our Apache members discussed whether the United States government should increase nuclear energy as a form of commercial energy. 

Along with the rigor and competitiveness that arose during the tournament, two of our fellow Apaches were able to stand out and represent Arcadia with an undefeated streak. Sophomore Oishika Chattopadhyay placed 2nd in Congress while Junior Evelyn Lo placed 6th. Congratulations to both of our competitors as they both qualified for the state tournament! 

Oishika said, “There were definitely some struggles since state qualification is a difficult tournament, and the stakes are high. Because the competition was definitely difficult, I think everyone on the speech and debate team thrives on the state quals tournament rather than see it as an issue, so it was a struggle but filled with lots of fun.”

Other debaters experienced stress and anxiety but also, in the end, felt rewarded as Sophomore Yana Verma suggested, “As always going to state quals competition is a rather stressful experience but also very rewarding. I’m very proud of the entire team and it’s amazing to see all your hard work pay off. Even with the little time we had, I think that Arcadia did a great job. Overall, I can’t wait until we get to compete again!”

Mrs. Ashley Novak, the speech and debate coach, who is recognized as one of the leading members of the California High School Speech and Debate Association, spends hours dedicating her time to the Speech and Debate team. Moreover, she commented about the team’s industrious work and collaborative efforts as she said, “Students worked in class and held workshops after school to help each other get ready for the day. Our debate qualifier was really an amazing experience for all!”

Unfortunately, due to the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state tournament was canceled for safety concerns. Upsetting and heartbreaking as it is, seniors will have to miss the last state tournament of their high school careers. 

Oishika wanted to cherish the last memories at state with the seniors who qualified as she admitted, “Going to states was my goal this entire year, and I was looking forward to spending time with the seniors who qualified as well. I’m really sad I won’t be able to qualify with them next year.”

Next year, our Apaches will have the chance to qualify to the state tournament again. Despite the tournament’s closure, we applaud the dynamic duos and individuals who prepared for their debates and competed exceptionally at San Marino High School. Go Speech and Debate!


Photo courtesy of Perry Lu