Big Questions Throwdown

Speech and Debate hosts their last tournament of the 2021-2022 season


Brandon Giles

Vice President of Speech and junior Giselle Geering delivers her rebuttal against the duo of Speech and Debate President and senior Abby Roman with IB English HL 2 student and senior Carolina Levine. Geering is in round 2 BVH’s Big Questions tournament.

Jaime Jazo, Features Editor

On May 21, Bonita Vista High’s (BVH) Speech and Debate team held their last tournament of the 2021-2022 season—Big Questions (BQ). BQ is unlike any other typical Speech and Debate tournament where BVH students compete against other students in the San Diego Imperial Valley Speech League. What sets BQ apart is that the tournament is mainly held for recruitment purposes in which current Speech and Debate team members invite non-Speech and Debaters to compete in duos.

Vice President of Speech and junior Giselle Geering mentioned that this tournament serves as an opportunity for current Speech and Debate members to demonstrate their growth within the program. BQ gives these soon-to-be varsity members a chance to mentor a newly introduced individual in the Speech and Debate program. 

The purpose of the BQ tournament was mainly for recruitment and also to give students who are already in Speech and Debate a chance to see how much they’ve grown. If they’re recruiting a new student, they get to teach them what they have learned,” Geering said.

Geering, having won first place at the tournament with her partner, Bonita Vista Middle eighth-grader Nicholas Wise, shared that she was satisfied with their overall performance. She described that preparing for the tournament beforehand took some heavy legwork, but ultimately she had an enjoyable time.  

“Overall, I feel happy with our performance. Leading up to the tournament, I put a little bit of pressure on myself to prepare hard,” Geering said. “But in the end, everything worked out and we had fun and that was the main goal.”

Considering that Wise is an underclassman, it took extra encouragement from Geering to assure him that he would be fine competing. She made sure to commend him for having the courage to just appear on Saturday morning, ready to compete. 

“I told him to not be nervous because nobody in Speech and Debate will judge him because he’s an eighth-grader,” Geering said. “He came into this many years younger than everyone else. I said ‘You’re already really brave for just showing up.’ ”

For other non-Speech and Debaters such as International Baccalaureate student and senior Lizet Mata, she expected the tournament to be much scarier since it was her first time competing. Despite this, upon completing her fourth and final round, she realized that competing was not as bad as she made it out to be. In fact, one of the only aspects of competing that posed a challenge to Mata was responding to her opponent’s questions during cross-examination, in which she would have to “frantically scroll” through her arguments to find a response. 

“I felt okay about it. There were times when I’d take pauses and be stunned at some of the questions they’d ask me. But, throughout the day, I got better at speaking, so it was interesting,” Mata said. 

Not only this but staying motivated to compete throughout the day was also difficult for Mata. Given that the tournament requires long hours, Mata used the extra credit offered by her IB English teacher for competing in the tournament as motivation to persist. 

“The hardest thing is sitting through the actual day. As the rounds kept going on, it was getting hard to focus on what the other people were saying,” Mata said. 

Vice President of Debate and senior Laurinne Eugenio partnered with former Speech and Debate team member and senior Nicole Estolano for their last BQ tournament. According to Eugenio, once Estolano departed from the team during her freshman year, they made it a goal of theirs to partner up in BQ in the future. Sadly for Eugenio, this dream was shattered as an emergency occurred, preventing Estolano from participating in the tournament. 

“I felt really anxious and scared because I’ve never competed by myself. Competing alone was a huge challenge that was difficult to overcome,” Eugenio said. “But the experience proved the opposite. It was fun and a learning opportunity. I was able to improve my skills as a second speaker because I’ve always been a first speaker in a partnered debate event.”

I feel happy and proud of what the team has accomplished. ”

— Vice President of Debate and senior Laurinne Eugenio

Regardless of the unforeseen circumstances, Eugenio still made sure to enjoy herself at her last Speech and Debate tournament with the entire team of her Speech and Debate career. Rather than lamenting about the end of her four-year term in the program, she saw BQ as an opportunity to leave on a positive note.

“I feel happy and proud of what the team has accomplished. Looking back at the very beginning of the year, our team was on the brink of not existing because of the lack of people,” Eugenio said. “It felt rewarding to see how much the team has grown for the past year and to see how excited people were to become a part of that opportunity. The fact that it was held on campus made the experience more personal because we were competing at our home.”