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Speech & Debate

Speech & Debate News

List of 5 news stories.

  • Speech at State

    We headed to CSU Long Beach with the biggest group to ever qualify in Speech for the State Tournament. This year we had five qualifiers in four events (because one of the events was a duo).

    Reece Stromberg '19 joined our team just this year, and he quickly drew quite a bit of attention to himself by winning trophies at the league tournaments in National Extemporaneous speaking. In this event Reece gets a half hour to prepare a speech on a topic related to the politics and economy of the United States. In general, extempers are a tight-knit group and they know each other quite well. So Reece proved to be a big disruption midway through this year. He finished with quite a great record under his belt, and he enjoyed his time at the State Tournament.
    Emma Hartley '20 has attended the State Tournament three years in a row in the same event—Advocacy. This year Emma wrote a powerful, well documented speech on reforming living conditions in the Appalachian Mountains. She dazzled the judges all year with this speech, even when she had to give it as an Oratory rather than an Advocacy, which is an event that emphasizes eloquence and delivery more than grounded research and argumentation. Given Emma's track record, we can probably expect her to make it again. Prior to Emma, no student has even made it to State more than twice!

    Our dynamic duo, Ellie Ramos '21 and Veronica Aranda '21, performed their duo, "Birthday Candles." The most impressive thing about this team is their work ethic, which is the only thing greater than their natural talent for acting and storytelling. These two never stopped adding to their choreography. One of the most challenging things about speech is performing the same piece for an entire year. Many competitors loose interest in their speech and want to start new ones. These young women found ways to keep their interest alive, finding nuance in the language, or new ways to imagine their scenes. As sophomores, these two will undoubtedly be contenders at this tournament again.

    Finally, there is Elannah De La O '20. She wowed the school at community meeting the week prior with a performance of her Program in Oral Interpretation. For her piece, she has woven five different pieces together to create a new work that aims to convey the Mexican American experience and the diverse range of voices within this community. Her piece includes poetry by Jimmy Santiago Baca and a transposed performance of the song "One Time One Night" by Los Lobos. Elannah beat the odds by breaking to semi-finals in her event, making her top fifteen in the state in her event.

    We have had a wonderful season... probably the most successful ever, and we can only expect greater things to come. Undoubtedly there's so much to celebrate at the Awards Banquet last week!
  • SA Debate team ranks among top 16 teams in California!

    Seniors Isabelle Elder and Olivia Synek finished their high school debate careers ranked as one of the top 16 policy debate teams in the state of California! Only one other SA Debate team in the history of our program has done as well. Isabelle and Olivia earned their statewide recognition after qualifying to and competing at the California High School Speech Association's State Championship Tournmament held at California State University, Long Beach May 3-5.

    This success is the culmination of a lot of hard work this year, competing at policy debate tournaments over the course of the entire school year. This year's policy debate topic (which schools all across the country have been researching) was about substantially changing US immigration policy. Policy debaters are required to provide high quality evidence to support all of their arguments and have to learn to debate both sides of the resolution at every single tournament they attend. 

    Our season ends with the State Championship and now SA Debate turns its focus to next year's national resolution about international arms sales. 
  • Students Compete in State Speech and Debate Championships

    Several of our Speech and Debate students are currently at CSU Long Beach competing for the state title in their events! Representing SA are Isabelle Elder '19, Olivia Synek '19, Reece Stromberg '19, Emma Hartley '20, Elannah De La O '20, Veronica Aranda '21, and Ellie Ramos '21. Wish them luck!
  • SA Debate Competes at NDCA National Championship

    Varsity debaters Gibran Hassan '19 and Hannah Nabavi '20 had an exciting weekend in Chicago, IL, where they competed at the National Debate Coaches Association National Championship against 100 of the best teams in the country. Hannah and Gibran are the the second team from SA Debate to ever represent Sonoma Academy at this prestigious national tournament. They competed against teams from Massachusetts, Texas, and Illinois, and won several of their debates. Gibran has much to be proud of after four years of competing in national circuit debate, and Hannah is gearing up for another successful year on the circuit. 

    Next up, SA Debate heads to the California State Championship with the speech team, which will be held at CSU Long Beach in May. Congrats Hannah and Gibran! 
  • SA Speech Competes at National Qualifier

    This past weekend at Lowell High School in San Francisco, the Golden Gate Speech Association held its district qualifier for the National Tournament. Elannah De La O '20 and Emma Hartley '20, who both recently qualified for the California State Tournament, showed up to compete for a spot at nationals. Our league, which comprises San Francisco, the East Bay and the Greater Bay Area, is one of the most successful in both the state and the country, making the district qualifier a difficult tournament at par with some of the most competitive tournaments on the speech circuit. 

    Both Elannah and Emma impressed the judges in their preliminary rounds and broke to semi-finals, which is an incredible feat at a tournament of this caliber. Elannah  competed in Program Oral Interpretation, in which she weaves together six different pieces about the immigrant experience, including the song "One Time, One Night" by Los Lobos. Emma qualified to State in Original Advocacy, but at this tournament, she entered her piece about black lung disease in Original Oratory. In a large pool of experienced Oratory competitors, it is especially impressive that Emma advanced to semi-finals. Though neither of them ultimately qualified, Elannah and Emma had a great day of competition. These top competitors have much to be proud of, and will represent Sonoma Academy and the Bay Area well at the State Tournament. 

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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 private, 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.