Speech and debate tournament comes to Newbury Park

NPHS Speech and Debate is a team that regularly competes and wins in tournaments across the Tri-County Forensics League. On Nov. 23, NPHS hosted a speech and debate tournament for the first time in several years. The event was attended by participants from over a dozen schools across the Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties.

David Cho, sophomore, believes that part of the reason NPHS hosted a tournament is due to club improvements. 

“We’ve gotten a lot more organized this year and we have regular meetings on Tuesdays at around 3:00,” Cho said. He explains that the specific event that NPHS held is called Congress, which mirrors its real-life counterpart. “You basically pretend to be a senator trying to pass a bill… there’s usually three rounds where you compete against different people and at the end of the day there’s awards.”

Katie O’Neill, adviser, has been involved with speech and debate for the last four years. However, this is the first tournament that NPHS has hosted under her leadership. “We had to figure out what would be a manageable thing for us to do our first time… so we picked a smaller event called Congress to host,” O’Neill said. 

As a result, she has faced several challenges in the planning process, notably getting rooms to use for the event. “I’m really trying to make sure that… we’re kind of making the teachers feel respected,” O’Neill said.

Benito Canepa, sophomore, was a part of the planning process for the tournament. He states that a major focus was providing enough food for the competitors. “There was the snack food that didn’t need to be cooked at all… we (also) had nachos and hot dogs and popcorn,” Canepa said. Since they were in charge of setting up and cleaning up after the competitors, the NPHS team had long hours on the day of the tournament. “(We started) about 6:30 (in the morning)  until around four,” Canepa said.

Overall, the tournament was a success for NPHS Speech and Debate and has given them motivation to host more in the future. The team also hopes to gain more recruitment within the next couple of years to keep its momentum going. “The kids really do love what they’re doing so it’s spreading to people who see them succeeding and loving what they’re doing… Anybody’s always welcome,” O’Neill said.

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