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Speech & Debate

Speech & Debate News

List of 5 news stories.

  • SA has a Blast at UOP!

    We always have fun in the crisp air of late October on the beautiful campus of The University of the Pacific in Stockton. While college students parade around in their costumes for Saturday night Halloween parties, our group of thirteen competed late into the night Saturday and into the afternoon on Sunday. 
    The results were good. Elannah De La O '20 had the tournament of her life earning two trophies on Novice Duo and in Novice Thematic Interp. The latter is a new event for SA, and a promising one. Elannah wove five different texts together including lyrics by Los Lobos, Reyna Grande, Ramon Resa, and Jimmy Santiago. Her piece conveys what it is like to be Mexican American. While Elannah was registered in Novice, her rounds were collapsed with Varsity, with whom she was holding her own, earning third place in all of her rounds. Elannah's partner in Duo was Christian Hernandez '20 who matched her strong performances with his talent as an actor. Christian is also performing a Dramatic Interpretation of a moving short story entitled, "Flowers for Algernon," about a mentally handicapped man who undergoes surgery to become more intelligent. 
    Ellie Ramos '21 was doubled in Duo and in Dramatic Interpretation. As a Varsity competitor she made it to the final rounds with her piece, "Hello Herman," a timely drama about school shootings. Her partner in Duo, Veronica Aranda '21, was also doubled in Dramatic Interpretation. 
    This weekend we saw the debut of a much talked about Duo Interpretation of Beowulf, translated by the Irish poet, Seamus Heaney. The dynamic pair, Byron Spars '19 and Alejandro Tonda '19 are back, and they are shocking audiences again with even older language. For their piece they are switching between Anglo Saxon and modern English, and, though they have many things to iron out, they are already receiving some very positive feedback. 
    Emma Hartley '20 and Anika McCarthy-Belash '20 had a second strong weekend in a row. Last week they won at James Logan in Novice Duo, and this past weekend they made it to final rounds with their piece, "The Court Jester," which is a Monty-Pythonesque drama about a royal court, a poison pill, and a jester named Giacomo, a name that is pronounced a thousand different ways over the course of the piece. 
    Casey McKay '19 and Ari Tamar-Mattis '19 braved the competitive preliminary rounds in Varsity Duo, but didn't quite make it to finals, as was the case for Tyler Duchynski '20 in Varsity Impromptu. Gavin Patchet '19 broke to semis in Varsity Impromptu, adding facts and figures he is learning in African Studies to vast repertoire of knowledge from which he draws for his performances. 
    Derek Huynh '20 has proved his breaking at the first league tournament was no fluke by making it to the final round in Oratorical Interpretation. 
    All in all it was another strong showing at UOP. Monday found us all very exhausted, but also very satisfied. The team celebrated with a Karaoke Party at practice on Monday, arranged and led by captains Byron, Casey, and Gavin. 
    We want to thank Chris Huynh and Ana Keller for tirelessly judging Saturday and Sunday. They were true troopers!
    Our next event will be the second league tournament, held at Sonoma Valley High School on December 1. Keep a look out for an announcement about our Winter Showcase!
  • Speech Team "Swarms" Duo Event at Logan

    On Saturday, October 20 the SA Speech team arrived in Union City with twenty-two competitors, most of whom were registered in the Novice Duo Event. SA has become known for its edgy duos over the years, which have included Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Lord of the Rings, Pulp Fiction, and other scripts that push the limits of the event. This year we headed in with renditions of Fight Club, My Girl, and The Court Jester among other titles. 
    We had a few "first-timers" this tournament, which included Pavel Karabelov, who is performing a dramatic interpretation of a Game of Thrones episode, Sara Boyers '21, who is telling a personal story about the loss of her home in the fires, and Nick Fowles '21 along with Bert Garner '21, who are doing a wild and crazy duo interpretation.
    Four out five of the duos to make it to finals in the novice division were SA teams. I can't say I ever remember "closing out" an event like this, but we came home with the third, second, and first place trophies: Nick and Bert receiving third, Elliot Harrison-Lee '19 and Jamie Potter '19 earning second, and Emma Hartley '20 and Anika McCarthy-Belash '20 winning first. 
    In varsity we had three entries: Gavin Patchet '19 in impromptu, Ellie Ramos '21 and Veronica Aranda '21 in dramatic interpretation, and Casey McKay '19 and Ari Tamar-Mattis '19 in duo. Though all of these competitors are already shining in their events, Ellie Ramos was the one to break to the finals with her rendition of "Hello Herman," a piece about school shootings. 
    We are off to a great start. This weekend varsity competitors will be in Stockton at the John Schambers Invitational held on the University of the Pacific's campus. 
    I want to thank the McKays, Shawn and Rich, for driving and judging this weekend. We can't compete without support from parents like them!
  • SA Debate Shines at First League Debate

    SA Debaters earned more trophies in policy debate than any other school attending the first league debate of the Golden Gate Speech Association. The GGSA is comprised of San Francisco as well as all the north bay and east bay counties. In Varsity Policy Debate, Isabelle Elder '19 and Olivia Synek '19 were the only undefeated team. Earning winning records in Varsity Policy Debate: Claire Stephens '19 and Max Brinegar '21, Luna Michelis '21 and Ana May Harb '21, Zoe Price '21 and Adri Kornfein '21, Kenzie Stewart '21 and Miron English '21, 

    In Novice Policy Debate, Rishi Rajan '21 and Leopold Van den Daele '20 were undefeated while Jack Jacobs '22 and Aarav Srivastav '22 earned a winning record.

    Huge thanks to all of our parent drivers and judges: Melissa Long, Brian Rigney, Lisa Jacobs, Lisa Harb, Matt Gillman, Jonathan Greenberg, Ruby Santos, and Tim Simonson.

    Next up, SA Debate will attend the second league debate of the year on Sunday, November 11th at Diablo Valley College.
  • SA Debate Wins St. Francis Invitational

    Gibran Hassan '19 and Hannah Nabavi '20 won the Varsity Policy division of the St. Francis Invitational this past weekend in Mountain View. Gibran also earned the rank of the tournament's top speaker while Hannah was ranked the 3rd place speaker. GIbran and Hannah advanced to the elimination bracket with a 4-1 prelim record and then won their Quarterfinal and Semifinal debates, sending them into the final championship round where their arguments to reduce immigration restrictions in the United States won the day.

    Meanwhile, Adri Kornfein '21 and Zoe Price '21 earned a winning record and Izzy Cohen '20, Micaela Peavey '20, Ana May Harb '21, and Miron English '21 won multiple debates and were only one debate away from qualifying to the elimination rounds. 

    Next up, the entire SA Debate team (Varsity, JV, and Novice) will attend the first GGSA League Debate of the year on Saturday, October 6th at Lowell High School in San Francisco.
  • Debate Team Heads to Washington

    Last week, members of our award-winning Policy Debate team had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C.  to participate in an exhibition debate in the House Judiciary Committee. The team argued a resolution on the issue of gun violence prevention with other students from around the country, and made time to stop by to visit California Senator Dianne Feinstein, as well. It was a fantastic experience and an opportunity to see how debate skills translate to real-world action. 
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Sonoma Academy Speech & Debate Team

Sonoma Academy began its Speech & Debate program seven years ago with a generous donation by two families, which allowed the school to join the Golden Gate Speech Association. Here we compete with over forty schools from around the Bay Area, and, over our short history we have begun to make a name for ourselves, not only in the Bay Area, but also in the state of California and the nation. Speech and debate teach our students how to think critically and how to express themselves in powerful, meaningful ways. SA students learn to bounce back from defeat and rise to a very high level of academic and artistic competition. It is in speech and debate that we truly engage academically and emotionally with the diversity of the Bay Area and beyond. We have nearly a thousand opponents, but, at the same time, in the spirit of forensics, we have also forged nearly a thousand friendships with schools from around the nation.

Sonoma Academy’s parliamentary debate team is currently tied for 3rd in the nation. SA teams were:
  • triple-octafinalists at the 2014 Stanford Invitational, partial-octafinalists at the 2014 National Parliamentary Debate Invitational, octafinalists at the 2013 Jon Schamber Invitational and the 2014 Martin Luther King, Jr. Invitational
  • quarterfinalists at the 2014 Dempsey-Cronin Invitational, 2014 Stanford Invitational, 2014 National Parliamentary Debate Invitational, and 2014 Jon Schamber Invitational
  • semifinalists at the 2013 Stanford Invitational
  • finalists at the 2014 National Parliamentary Debate Invitational
  • champions of the 2014 Jon Schamber Invitational
  • one SA team qualified to the Tournament of Champions in 2014
  • 2 teams qualified to the 2014 state championships
  • two teams from Sonoma Academy had qualified to the 2015 Tournament of Champions as of mid-November.
All in all, our debate program has expanded dramatically over the past few years, with currently over 25 team members, and our results both quantifiably and qualifiably have reflected this!

Three years after the debate team got started, a small group of students, who had always wondered why students in suits were talking to walls at some of our tournament, decided to give it a try. They loved it, and there was no looking back. 
Initially, Sonoma Academy specialized in slam poetry. Millie Williams and Jemal Williams (not related), turned many heads with their electric poetry, which they brought to Youthspeaks competitions as well. Millie was the first member of the Forensics Team to qualify to the State Tournament, which she did in 2010. 
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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.