veritas exquirere

Talon

veritas exquirere

Talon

veritas exquirere

Talon

OPHS Speech and Debate team succeeds at state qualifier tournaments

12 students advance to the CHSSA tournament

In the past month, the OPHS Speech and Debate team had many participants qualify for the California High School Speech Association Tournament. To compete in this tournament, students must qualify in a rigorous competition against peers in their district. Depending on the event, a small number of top participants qualify, and advance. Between the events of Lincoln Douglass debate, Congressional Debate and Individual Events speech, 12 students will move on to the CHSSA Tournament. Due to the many victories, some students were forced to yield certain events.

Yielding an event means that even though a competitor qualified in more than one event, per CHSSA rules, they are only allowed to compete in the state tournament with one of the events they qualified for. This means that students must decide before the qualifying tournament which of their events they would like to compete at the state tournament.

Qualifiers in Lincoln Douglas Debate: 

Lincoln Douglass style debate is 1:1; the resolution for this year’s state qualifier was “The United States ought to substantially reduce its military presence in the West Asia-North Africa region.” The students had to research the topic and build a prepared and effectively delivered case in order to qualify for the CHSSA Tournament. Three students from OPHS qualified, senior Michelle Bi, junior Dasha Heydari and sophomore Meera Shreedhar. 

“I’m still so surprised I was able to make it considering everyone was so amazing,” Heydari said. “It was so exciting and exhilarating and I’m really looking forward to going to states.”

Qualifiers in Congressional Debate:

Specifically at this tournament, Congressional Debate consisted of a pool of students all debating one another, essentially one student competing against 13 others. Given the large number of students and a time restraint of one hour, 30 minutes per round, it can be hard to stand out against the competition. In order to qualify, students had to prepare biased cases regarding six different bills, then debate them in a “house,” roleplaying a senator. The qualifiers from OPHS include junior Lincoln Reyes ranking third place overall, and junior Bing Heine-Van Fossen ranking 10th overall, yielding the qualifying spot in order to compete in another event. 

“I’m super excited to be qualified to both the Tournament of Champions and state after a long season alongside my teammates,” Reyes said. “Hopefully we can make a great performance at the upcoming NSDA qualifier.”

Qualifiers & Finalists in Individual Events Speech: 

Individual Events span 12 different types, all with different rules, styles, time limits, and general guidelines. Of the 12, OPHS had finalists in nine and qualifiers in eight. 

In Declamation, junior Sharanya Palakodeti ranked first and is qualifying to state, Natalie Baghdanian ranked sixth and yielded a qualifier seat to original advocacy. Freshmen Aarshi Chaudhary ranked seventh and is a finalist. 

“The tournament was extremely long and stressful but the entire team stuck together and helped each other out and I truly believe my success wouldn’t have been possible without the help of my team members and coaches,” Palakodeti said.

In Dramatic Interpretation, junior Addie Vandenhengel ranked second yielding a qualifier seat to duo. Additionally in DUO Interpretation, Addie Vandenhengel alongside Brystian Heine-Van Fossen ranked first, scoring a rank of 1 from every judge, a score known as a “Picket Fence.” In all of League History this has not been achieved at Tri-County Forensic League State Qualifier. 

Informative Speaking saw Hudson Friedman rank third, yielding a qualifier seat to OPP and Aarshi Chaudhary rank seventh as a finalist. 

“Despite some really tough competition we were able to pull out the win, and I couldn’t be more proud of us all,” Vandenhengel said.

In Impromptu junior Navya Garg ranked 2nd and qualified to state and sophomore Annika Thakur ranked 7th and was a finalist. In Original Advocacy Natalie Baghdanian ranked 3rd and qualified to state. 

“Ultimately, we all won as a team because none of us could have made it without the feedback from our teammates,” Garg said. “ Even when we compete, the tournament was more about working and helping each other as a team rather than an individual event.”

In Original Oratory Brystian Heine-Van Fossen ranked fifth, sophomore Kelsey Frieborn ranked sixth and sophomore Pragya Mamilapally ranked seventh, all three participants becoming finalists. Original Prose and Poetry saw Hudson Friedman rank fourth, qualifying him to state. Lastly, Program Oral Interpretation saw sophomore Prithvi Vengarai rank fifth, also qualifying for state. 

The CHSSA Tournament takes place April 12-14 of this year and will be at Clovis North High School in Fresno, California. Much like in high school sports, League competitions end at the state level and do not progress to a national level.

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Ella Broms, Staff Artist
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