PHOTO: One Davis High graduate and two members of the speech and debate team watch a pair of sophomores perform an interpretation.
By Stephanie Thompson,
The Davis High speech and debate team is currently preparing for its first speech tournament, League 1 Speech. The competition will take place Saturday, Oct.12 at Oak Ridge High in El Dorado Hills.
The nine competitors from DHS are working after school every Wednesday to perfect their speeches, prepare to compete year round, improve their speaking skills and possibly win trophies.
At this tournament, there will be around 10 different schools competing. While that number is smaller compared to last year’s competition, it does give beginners the opportunity to see what the event is like.
English and social science teacher Richard Ferguson has been the coach for speech and debate at DHS for the past two years. He emphasizes the importance of speech and debate, and encourages students to participate.
“It hones their critical thinking skills [and] their speaking skills, which will serve them well [for] the rest of their lives,” Ferguson said.
Cedric Hughes, a senior at DHS and a senior captain for the team, is looking forward to going and performing his piece that he’s been working on. Hughes also has high hopes for the other students going.
“I hope that the students attending this upcoming tournament will have an opportunity to learn from others and have fun,” Hughes said.
Some of the competitors are new to the team, so this event will be their first experience.
The event on Oct. 12 is sophomore Frances Thayer’s first speech tournament. She has had some theater experience prior to this, but this is her first year on the speech and debate team.
“I am very passionate for the arts. […] I hope to learn a lot from this first experience on how the system works,” Thayer said.
For sophomore Alicia Joo, this is her second speech tournament. She attended one last year, and recalls having a great experience.
“It was really fun, and I’m mostly doing [speech] because I’m hoping it’ll be the same as last year,” Joo said.
Luca Moretti, a DHS graduate of 2018 and an assistant coach for the team, explains how valuable more experienced students are, giving new students “confidence and taking away the worry and pressure, because this activity […] has a lot of scary attributes that are really hard for people that are new to the activity to cope with and deal with,” he said.
Although speech competitions can be stressful, especially for the first time, Ferguson has advice for anyone starting Speech and Debate.
“Listen to the captains, practice, go to events regardless of whether you think you’re good or not good so that you get experience and talk to the assistant coach and coach […] so that you’re not intimidated because it is not intimidating,” Ferguson said.