By Jady Ojeda
Fortunately for the Gabrielino High School Speech and Debate team, bus funds will be untouched for the California High School Speech Association (CHSSA) State Tournament, which will take place at Arcadia High School later today through Sunday. For the first time in 16 years, the state tournament will be held within the team’s district and the Screamin’ Eagles are prepared to prove their strength within their territory.
Last month marked the 20th straight year in which the team has maintained possession of the Southern California Debate League (SCDL) championship title. This year, 40 team members will represent Gabrielino at state in 11 different events.
Seniors Tiffany Kuo, Roger Ma, and Juan Nathaniel left their mark on the team by automatically qualifying to State at Spring Varsity on Jan. 28. They are all four-year seniors, spending their entire high school careers working on their craft.
“For someone who’s been before, going to state again in a new event will definitely be a fun and insightful experience,” Ma stated. “I’m lucky to be going through it with my teammates and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Driven by the graduating seniors, a large number of freshman also qualified, following in the footsteps of upperclassmen who offered coaching and encouragement.
Samuel Adi, David Campos, and Brendan Kim are among the freshmen who qualified at the SCDL State Qualifying Tourna- ment at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) on March 4, making them automatic varsities.
Prior to State Quals, Felicia Tang was the first freshman to auto-qualify to state in the event of Expository.
“I didn’t expect to auto-qual[ify] because I didn’t know it was a thing,” stated Tang.
Sophomores David Deng and Jason Liu, the native Mandarin speakers who became the first English-language learners (ELL) to win a varsity tournament, have become the first ELL students to qualify for state in the team’s history and will be competing together in Duo Interpretation.