It takes two to qualify

Bonita Vista High Speech and Debate members qualify in Public Forum


Eiffel Sunga

Sophomore and Speech and Debate historian Morgan Murphy gives a speech laying out her team’s arguments. The topic they were debating was Resolved: In the United States, right to work laws do more harm than good.

On Feb. 24 and 25, two Speech and Debate teams, a total of four students, from Bonita Vista High (BVH) qualified in the Public Forum sector of the California High School Speech Association (CHSSA) State Tournament. BVH’s Speech and Debate team spent hours preparing for this tournament as well as the next two contests they have on the upcoming weekends.

The Public Forum is one of the events that the Speech and Debate team participates in. It functions as a forum for open discussions about specific present-world topics. One of the qualified teams, Vice President of Speech and Debate and senior Lannah Garcia, explains more about the way the Public Forum functions. 

“The Public Forum is one of the debates that [BVH]’s Speech and Debate teams really focus on. [It] is a two-versus-two debate where we debate about a topic. It could be about foreign policy, the economy, civil rights and anything of that sort,” Garcia said. “It’s fact-based and talks a lot about evidence. For example, our last weekend’s tournament was about whether or not right-to-work laws in states did more harm or good.”

After preparing carefully , two pairs of BVH students qualified in the Public Forum, bringing representation to the competitions and pride to their team as well as their school. Historian and sophomore Morgan Murphy, one of the two qualifying sophomores, shares her feelings about qualifying.

“Qualifying made me very happy. [My partner and I] came very close last year and barely missed it. We’re really excited to make it this year. I think we surprised ourselves by doing this. We weren’t expecting to qualify or even get as far as we did,” Murphy said.

Making it to the state competition after the Public Forum became a great honor for the qualifiers and the Speech and Debate team. Secretary and senior qualifier Vivian Nguyen mentions how qualifying is significant to the school as a whole.

“I think BVH is often [seen as] that South school with a very diverse body of students. I’m happy that two Bonita teams are able to represent our school, a Title I school who doesn’t have the same resources as those North schools, so it’s really nice that we’re able to represent [our school] instead,” Nguyen said.

I’m happy that two Bonita teams are able to represent our school, a Title I school who doesn’t have the same resources as those North schools, so it’s really nice that we’re able to represent [our school] instead,

— Secretary and senior qualifier Vivian Nguyen

The Speech and Debate team trained rigorously to perform as perfectly as possible during this competition. Sophomore Capri Molina brings up how the teams prepared themselves for the debate.

“[We prepared with] a lot of practice and a lot of repeats. We have ‘mentor repeats’ where another team member watches our event and gives us feedback on it,” Molina said.

In addition, the teams will continue to prepare for the upcoming debates, occurring over the next two weekends. These events will provide more team members with other opportunities to qualify. Garcia talks about how the teams are practicing for the opportunity to qualify in the upcoming speech tournament the weekend of March 3. 

“Specifically this week, we are practicing our speeches over and over again and making sure we practice it in front of the officers and the mentors [as well as our advisor] Mr. Helle. For the third weekend, we’re really working on preparation for the topic and making sure we research. I think we’re definitely doing some of that research this week as well,” Garcia said.

Members of the Speech and Debate team are known for their hard work, dedication and resilience. They combine their efforts to sharpen each individual’s skills. Murphy comments on what she believes are the strengths of her team and how it has led to her success of qualifying in the CHSSA tournament.

“I think we have a really good support system. Everyone is always helping each other. Everyone is always giving each other feedback and I think it always keeps us improving and growing,” Murphy said.

Despite the honorable achievements, the team still recognizes that there is always room for growth. Molina mentions the areas in which she believes her team can improve on.

“I think we can improve on the quality of our speech and a lot of the performance aspects. We are a very evidence-heavy school, but sometimes we forget that performance is a big part of Speech and Debate,” Molina said.

The qualifiers have also given words of encouragement to their fellow team members. Mainly, they advise members not to focus on winning. Nguyen hopes her words will help her peers qualify in the upcoming competitions.

“Three words: winning doesn’t matter. In my freshman year, I didn’t win. I didn’t make it to the next round in any of my speech events the whole entire year. And it made me almost want to quit, honestly, but I stuck with it. I think that’s what speech debate teaches these kids: resilience and their ability to push through when times are tough. To grow and to become a person that they never thought it could be,” Nguyen said.