Speech goes to nationals

Katie Gallaway, News Editor

Eight students from the speech and debate team, lead by speech coach and alumni Stef Cambra, won big at the national tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. this summer.

“These days are emotionally, physically and mentally draining,” Cambra said. “You’re having to perform, you’re having to connect with an audience and you’re having to find the newness every time you present.”

To qualify for nationals, students must participate in the district national qualifier and make it to the top two or three of their category. The only other way that they can be selected to go to nationals is if they were in the top nine or 10 in nationals the previous year.

Senior debater Saavni Desai auto-qualified and participated in the congress portion of the tournament, making seventh place this year. The team was met with great success all the way to the finals round.

“We were the school that had the most number of students in an event at finals,” Desai said.

After each round, the students wait for the results to be announced in the form of school codes, which are given to each individual or team. Once the judges have made their decisions, the school codes of those who made it to the next round are then posted for the competitors to see.

Senior Joyce He participated in the oral interpretation events of duo, which is done with a partner, and oratory, which is an individual category.

“When we saw our school code when the results for the top 60 in the duo rounds were announced, we were overjoyed,” He said.

He has been in speech for six years, and when she saw their placement, she was excited but the feeling didn’t last unfortunately.

“We went from being overjoyed to a moment of low confidence when we found out we didn’t make it to the top 30,” He said. “It made me realize that you need to fully appreciate every moment you get.”

Cambra said that the atmosphere when results are posted is always tense.

“By the time you get to the top 60, you know you belong there,” Cambra said. “After that, it’s just luck of the draw because everyone’s competing at such a high level.”

Nonetheless, He said that the team returned home in high spirits, and she was proud of what they had accomplished and learned at the tournament.

“Thank you to the team for pushing me to my limits and giving me a platform to speak my mind,” He said.

Although it was Cambra’s first year teaching, three students participating in oral interpretation made it to octofinals (top 60) for the first time in several years.

“It was such an amazing feeling, just being on that stage and representing our school and our district,” Desai said.