San Dieguito Academy Newspaper
Photo Courtesy of Maya Janaswamy
Mission Vista High School freshman, Jada Erold, gives her speech on gun violence.

Students conquer America’s number one fear

March 4, 2019

            Echoes of laughter and speeches bounced through the normally empty hallways last weekend. A dewy mist settled around the SDA campus. Colorful, dripping signs that read “Warm Room” pointed visiting students to the crowded buzz in the Mosaic Cafe. The cafeteria  was filled with speech competitors doing homework, chatting or on their phones. The scent of ramen wafted from the concessions stand, and heat radiated from the room. Outside, students cheerfully lectured the walls, practicing their speeches about capital punishment and workplace discrimination, or paced back and forth with anticipation.

            SDA hosted the Speech State Qualifying tournament this past weekend. High-school students from around California spoke about a variety of topics ranging from gun violence to dark matter. One category that students presented. interpretation, can be a dramatic or humorous reading of a text. Another category was impromptu, where students spoke about a topic they are given during the round. In the category of expository speeches, students are allowed to use props to talk about topics they are passionate about.

            “Six-feet under,” repeated Mission Vista High School freshman Jada Erold, referring to young people shot and killed and the legislation to restrict firearms and end gun violence. Tears filled her eyes and her words rang out across the room. When she paused for several seconds, the scratching of the judge’s pencil was the only sound that could be heard. Her eyes brushed over each member of the audience, forming brief connections before moving on. She finished, thanked the audience, then headed back to her seat. Several students presented after her, discussing topics of fiction, happiness, civility, soccer, and the American Dream.

            Speech and debate has helped senior Joseph Casey from Bonita Vista High School form connections and decide what he wants to do with his life. “Speech was one of the things that taught me I was really interested in pursuing a design field,” Casey said. “If anything, debate taught me that I didn’t really want to become a lawyer. It made me realize that I wanted to pursue architecture, which I am now doing my speech on, so it’s kind of full circle.” Speech and debate also helped him meet new people. “Speech and debate has definitely brought me a lot closer to a lot of different people that I otherwise would not have become close to,” said Casey.

            “I love being able to talk about specific topics, and having the freedom to talk about anything,” said La Costa Canyon High School senior, Valeria Richardson. 

            “What was always told to me, before I started speaking, is that public speaking is Americans’ number one fear. That definitely applied to me, but the fact that you’re challenging yourself to do something that is naturally uncomfortable every weekend gave me the mentality that I can do anything I set my mind to,” said Casey.

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