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Students practice skills at speech tournament

Posted: June 5, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 5, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Local kids Zack Seals and Hannah Ruzicka perform their duo interpretation during a recent speech tournament at Concordia University in Irvine.

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Middle and high school students from around the country gathered for several days at Concordia University in Irvine recently for the largest local speech and debate tournament of the year.

More than 500 students polished their skills by competing in 15 speech and debate events. Speech tournaments such as Concordia Challenge are organized through STOA, a national speech and debate league for Christian homeschool students.

As part of the program, students may choose speech events in three categories, such as interpretive, platform and limited preparation. The four interpretive speech events involve choosing a play or piece of literature and performing it dramatically. Competitors with platform speeches present a three-point speech which may be persuasive, informative or expository with visual aids. In limited preparation events, speakers have limited time to prepare and present a speech. Debate students may compete in Lincoln Douglas value debates, team policy or parliamentary debate.

In speech, each competitor presents his or her speeches in two or three preliminary rounds. If successful, students move on to quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals.

In debate, students compete in six preliminary rounds. If successful, they move on to octofinals, quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. At the end of the tournament, competitors attend an awards ceremony receiving their rewards and cheering for their teammates.

Tournaments such as Concordia Challenge teach competitors many valuable skills. Carey Vandewalle, a three-year competitor, explains that speech and debate is “a wonderful training ground for character ... Speech and debate has been the most important life-changing experience in my life.”

“The skills I’ve learned and practiced will benefit me all of my life. I have become more confident both in words and in manner,” competitor Alyssa Peacock said. “Outside of academics, I have made lasting friendships and wonderful memories.”

Rebecca Meitler is a 15-year-old local resident and member of the local homeschooling group, Explorers of Santa Clarita.

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