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Speech & Debate

Speech & Debate News

List of 5 news stories.

  • SA Speech in the Community

    Last Tuesday night, December 11, two SA speech team members, sophomores Veronica Aranda and Ellie Ramos, attended a local storytelling event. The Do Tell Story Swap is held once each month (second Tuesday) at the Oakmont Gardens. The swap is for people who love to tell stories or just listen. People come from all over Sonoma County to engage in this ancient art form.

    Veronica and Ellie gave the swap a taste of something very different from the fairytales and folktales that are normally featured. They performed their duo interpretation, "Birthday Candles," which is about two twins celebrating their twenty-third birthday. What you think is a friendly get together of the sisters, suddenly turns into a very sad and tragic moment when the audience learns that one of the sisters is already dead. The conversation has been at the graveyard where one sister is talking to the other's headstone.

    Veronica and Ellie held the swap completely spellbound. It was the first time many of the swap members had seen a duo interpretation. Both the swap and the girls were energized by the experience. Hopefully more SA speech performances will make it into the community in the future!
  • Speech Shines at League 2

    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.
  • SA Debate Succeeds at Second League Debate

    SA Debate had a fantastic showing at the second league debate of the year, held at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill. SA tied for first place for most trophies won in policy debate, defeating teams from all over the Bay Area.

    In Varsity, three teams earned winning records: Rachel Gothelf ‘19/Micaela Peavey ‘20, Zoe Price ‘21/Emily Ibañez-Arroyo ‘19, and Kenzie Stewart ‘21/Miron English ‘21. 
    In Novice, the only two undefeated teams in the entire divison were from SA: the teams of Jack Jacobs ‘22/Mateo Mijares ‘22 and Blue Stringer ‘22/Kaitlyn Meyer '22 won all three of their debates. Kai Leon ‘21 and Riku Gilman ‘22 earned a winning record in novice.

    Huge thanks to our drivers and judges who made this weekend possible: Melissa Long, Lisa Jacobs, Jana Leon, Rodney Gothelf, Isabelle Elder, and alum Audrey von Raesfeld. 

    Next up, SA Debate heads to the Martin Luther King Jr. Invitational in January, held in Union City, CA.
  • 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!
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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. 
2500 Farmers Lane
Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Sonoma Academy is...

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.