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.
Last night at the Windsor Community Center, one of the champions from SA's speech team headed into the Lion's Club Youth Speaker Contest, in which a high school student prepares a ten-minute speech on a different topic each year. This year's topic was "Freedom of the Press: What does it mean?" To compete at the community level, Elannah had already won at the club level at the Lions Club of Montgomery Village. Her speech was a powerful contemplation of the different narratives (both liberal and conservative) that threaten to control media and obscure the truth. Elannah ended her speech with a personal statement in which she views the press as playing the role of a fourth power in our constitutional system of checks and balances.
While Elannah did not advance to the district level, there is much for her to be proud of. She has been a champion in the Golden Gate Speech Association, and she will be representing the Bay Area at the State Tournament this year at Long Beach in her event, which is Thematic Interpretation. In addition to her league competition, she has been adding community events such as this Lions Club competition. You might recall, last fall, Elannah also attended a Tellabration! event held at the Sebastopol Public Library, where she told a beautiful story of gratitude about the life of her beloved uncle.
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.