Last weekend, Gabrielino High School’s Speech and Debate team participated in the 20th annual Jack Howe Memorial Tournament at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB).
Jack Howe is the fifth largest invitational in the nation. It featured approximately 1,200 competitors this year. The two-day tournament is considered to be the official start of the competition season.
At the tournament, the Screamin’ Eagles earned a total of 33 trophies, claiming 23 percent of all awards handed out. In addition, the team won the sweepstakes award by a margin of 128 points.
Some students woke up five hours earlier than their other teammates to compete in the debate portion of the invitational. “I really look up to the debaters because they’re the first ones there at the tournament and they’re the last ones to leave,” stated junior Caleena Sugiharto. Before the awards ceremony began, students used the time to bond with one another instead of worrying about scores.
Every year, the team takes a trip together to a koi pond at the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden, where they can relax by feeding the fish. On the walk there and back, students pair up with a teammate they do not normally talk to in order to socialize and
“It’s a bit awkward at first but eventually you start up a conversation and it becomes a nice experience,” stated senior Sarah Preston.
Students have been preparing for Jack Howe since April, writing, revising, and memorizing their speeches.
“[Creating a new speech] makes preparation for Jack Howe extremely stressful and hard,” said co-captain Maya Kusonoki-Martin, “but it’s also really exciting to come up with fresh material.”
Gabrielino’s Speech and Debate team is ranked number one in the nation and has been part of the top 13. The Screamin’ Eagles have also been recognized by Congresswoman Judy Chu for their accomplishments in the past years.