Speech Shines at League 2

Brandon Spars
Thank goodness for the one tournament that we do not have to cross the entire Bay Area. This tournament has always been at Sonoma Valley High School, and at least one of our team members was able to walk to the tournament. It almost felt like a "home game" for us. 
 
Some of you might remember the Hansen family. Jenny Hansen graduated in 2008, and her mother, Janet Hansen, who is the Sonoma Valley's head coach, was instrumental in helping me get the speech and debate team on its feet. She is always an incredibly gracious host at this tournament, which is really the first tournament at which everyone has their pieces in "competition-shape." 
 
Our duos were strong. In novice, juniors Bert Garner and Nicholas Fowles took a second place trophy for their wild and crazy duo entitled, "Schizophrenia." Seniors Sydney Sullivan and Maeve Duncan made their debut with "Lady Bird," while juniors Brian Barcenas and Tyler Duchynski continued to hone their piece on college applications. Two varsity duos broke to finals, sophomores Ellie Ramos and Veronica Aranda with their duo "Birthday Candles," and seniors Elliot Harrison-Lee and Jamie Potter for their interpretation of "Fight Club." Meanwhile, seniors Casey McKay and Ari Tamar-Mattis, whose duo was featured at the showcase last week, continued with their performance of "My Girl."
 
Christian Hernandez '20 and Pavel Karabelov '22 both broke to final rounds in Novice Dramatic Interpretation, ultimately leading to Christian's receiving a second place trophy. Meanwhile, Anika McCarthy-Belash '20 was doing the humorous side of things with her piece about on-line dating. 
 
New to SA is the Program in Oral Interpretation. To perform this piece, a competitor cuts from multiple published works to produce a single work about a single theme. Chloe Cullen '20 and Elannah De La O '20 performed the first Programs we have ever had, and with great success. Elannah's piece, in fact, came in fourth in the Varsity Division. Both of these team members have beautiful voices, which they employ during their performances. Chloe includes refrains from Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changing," while Elannah has chosen "One Time, One Night in America" by Los Lobos to help weave her piece together. 
 
Junior Derek Huynh continues to impress with his Oratorical Interpretation of a TED Talk about the war in Syria. Out of a large field in this popular event, Derek took fourth!
 
We have two team members entered in Original Prose. Sara Boyers '21 has risen to Varsity with her story about her loss during the Sonoma Fires. Meanwhile, Zoe Price '21, in her first speech competition, told a riveting story about mental illness and took first place in the novice division. 
 
Many others joined the team to compete at this tournament totalling 27 entries. The above mentions are just some of the many highlights, but two more highlights must be mentioned. The first was the entrance of Reece Stromberg '19 onto the Extemporaneous scene. In this event, a competitor has half an hour to present a seven-minute speech on an assigned topic. Reece "picket-fenced" the entire tournament, which means he received first place from all six of of his judges over the course of the day. This is very rare in either Novice or Varsity Division, and it promised great things to come for Reece. Finally, in the ever-popular Impromptu Speaking, with the largest field in the tournament, Gavin Patchet '19 took second place. He continues to lead the team as one of the captains by example. His hard work and devotion to his craft are truly paying off. 
 
One final note about our team: the director of the tournament, Kristen Plant, approached me to commend me on the behavior of our team during the tournament. Our team jumped up to help her clean the cafeteria while teams from other schools watched and did nothing to help with the exception of Quarry Lane. This may have made me prouder than all of the fine results I have listed above. 
 
The speech team wants to thank the parent drivers and judges: Carole Hanson, Jane Fowles, Sean Cullen, and, of course, the team mother, Patience Patchet. Without these parents we cannot compete. We also want to thank SA faculty member Florence Rink. Our students were happy that she got a taste of what we do at these tournaments.
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The only independent, college preparatory high school in Sonoma County. On its beautiful 34-acre campus nestled at the base of picturesque Taylor Mountain in South Santa Rosa, Sonoma Academy students are able to explore their interests and passions in a challenging environment that prepares them for college and life beyond.