The Speech and Debate team was victorious in a California State competition this past weekend in Woodland Hills, earning four gold medals, three silver medals, two bronze medals, and placing sixth out of the 28 community colleges that participated.
“The State competition is open to all community colleges in California, and there is no qualification for it,” said Ira Heffler who is a Language Arts instructor on campus. “We are really confident this year.”
The State competition took place at the Marriott hotel.
“Since it’s such a huge competition, we wouldn’t be able to fit in a school,” said the Language Arts Division Chair Jean Perry. “It gets so crowded with students from all over California and we have various rounds that the judging differs from that of our other competitions throughout the year,” added Perry.
“During a competition, when someone stands up to speak, the audience consists of other students and faculty members from other schools.
“The judges who are present turn in their ballots after a presentation is done. Those ballots are then taken to the judging room.
“We also have what is called the ‘elimination round’ and that is when the students who have tied in previous rounds go head to head,” she added.
The Speech and Debate club is also known as the Forensics Team because just like the crime scene investigators, the club members must also practice and do a lot of research to back up their debates during competitions.
When it comes to competitions, some people may think about the nerve-wracking feelings that emerge before one speaks in front of a large audience. Although Robert Cannon said it is not like that at all.
“It is not really about nervousness anymore,” said Cannon, who is the President of the Speech and Debate Club. “Honestly it was a very tiring competition, but it served as a warm up for our Nationals coming up in April,” added Cannon, who also won a gold medal for poetry interpretation.
The state competition lasted four entire days “in which a lot of our energy was consumed, but it was worth it,” said Cannon.
“This year our national tournament will be in the University of Minnesota where we will be competing against four-year universities as well,” said Perry.
“Just last year at nationals, our team ranked at third place,” said Heffler. “And we hope that we can beat that number this year.”
The National Competition for Minnesota is for both two-year and four-year colleges and universities. Meanwhile there is a separate national competition for two-year colleges only that takes place in Texas.
“In order to compete at the Minnesota Nationals we must have members of the team who qualify, and so far we have four that are ready to go,” said Perry.
“We are the only two-year college that is competing in both Nationals this year and I think we have a great shot at it,” said Cannon.
The Forensics team will also hold a two day Speak – O – Fest on campus starting April 24 and April 25 at the Student Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free food and free entertainment will be provided as well.
“We have a variety of speeches and interpretations on both days, said Cannon. “We have some pretty fun stuff to share with the campus.”
“This [ Speak- O – Fest] is also a great time for students to learn what our team is all about and if anybody is interested in joining, our festival will certainly be a great time to consider it and you’ll get absolutely hooked,” said Heffler.
The forensics team meets in AD 205 every Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. Perry may be reached at (818) 240-1000 ext. 5504, and Heffler may be reached at ext. 3113.