By Staff Writers Katherine Guo & Maggie Zhao
MSJ’s Speech and Debate teams competed at the 31st Annual Stanford Invitational from February 11 to 13, with a total of thirteen MSJ students advancing into elimination rounds. Students competed in Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debate and Public Forum (PF) debate, as well as speech events such as Duo Interpretation, Dramatic Interpretation, Expository, Original Interpretation, Impromptu Speaking, and National Extemporaneous Speaking.
This year, Speech and Debate have been doing well, with the PF team holding the most bids to the Tournament of Champions nationally. The Stanford Invitational is one of the last major invitationals for the Speech and Debate teams.
At the Stanford Invitational, members of the Speech and Debate teams were able to advance far into elimination rounds. In Speech, five competitors advanced to elimination rounds with four people (two teams) in Duo Interpretation and one in Dramatic Interpretation. Sophomore Rahul Iyer placed second in Varsity Dramatic Interpretation, and Junior Rohan Srinivasan and Freshman Swetha Naidu placed fourth in Varsity Duo Interpretation. In Varsity PF, four teams advanced to outrounds, two teams, Sophomores Arunav Gupta and Ishan Maunder and Seniors Keshav Kundassery and Max Wu reaching quarterfinals. In Varsity Lincoln-Douglas, Junior Lavanya Singh and Senior Prachit Bhike reached eliminations, and both advanced to octofinals.
While forensics is a competitive activity, members of the speech and debate teams bond and become close friends. Debate President Senior Max Wu said, “This year, our team has really grown both as a competitive group and as a family, and I look forward to continuing this trend onwards.” Debate meets a total of three times a week, with Junior Varsity LD, Varsity PF, and Junior Varsity PF meeting on Tuesdays after school and Varsity LD meeting Wednesdays after school. At meetings, which are called “labs,” topic lectures are given and practice debates are held in order for competitors to work on argumentation and speaking skills. Speech meetings are held every Monday during lunch and Friday after school, with a Monday informational meeting and a Friday practice session. On Fridays, speech competitors can be seen practicing one-on-one with event captains or working on their scripts with Speech Coach Brandon Stewart.
However, Speech and Debate can be very time-consuming activities. Debate Secretary Junior Robert Chen said, “Forensics quickly transformed from just another extracurricular activity to a passion that I have spent countless nights preparing for and sacrificing many school days to compete. Because of this, two of the best things forensics has taught me are effective time and stress management skills.” Competitive debaters often spend hours after lab researching arguments and doing speaking drills, and speech competitors spend many afternoons honing their speeches and delivery styles.
Ultimately, the Speech and Debate teams are resources through which high schoolers can develop public speaking skills as well as make close friends through a shared passion. As Chen said, “My favorite part of being on the MSJ Speech and Debate team is the bonds that form from the activity.”
Photo by Staff Writer Katherine Guo