Great Oak hosts first speech and debate tournament

Great Oak High School’s aspiring Speech and Debate Team hosted their first tournament on Saturday, Dec.1, in which they competed with various other schools including Yucaipa High School, Vista Murrieta High School, and La Quinta High School in the categories of Parliamentary Debate, Novice Parler, and Public Forum.   

Members of Great Oak’s team attend an average of five tournaments a year, but never before had they hosted.  

Aimee Solano, who, along with her partner Natalie Bayer, took first place in Varsity Parliamentary Debate, thought that the tournament “went pretty smooth,” and was an “overall success” for the students. 

Great Oak overall emerged victorious, Bayer and Solano taking first place in Varsity Parliamentary Debate, Hans Britsch and Delaney Jures taking second, and Andrea Sanchez and Alexis Duenes taking fourth.

Students were given the holiday theme of “This House Believes in Santa Claus” and were allowed to engage the topic however they pleased, providing for a creative interpretation ranging from medical marijuana all the way to foreign policy. 

After receiving their classroom assignments, the students competed in 40 minute increments, each with their own judge. Most participated in three to four debates throughout the day, engaging in heated conversation on topics that they received only mere minutes prior to commencement.

Jures, vice president of Speech and Debate, held previous success at The Claremont Tournament of last year, placing fourth and second in debate, while her partner, Britsch, also gained success. 

Britsch commented that he “hopes the school can move into a college debate setting,” an achievement granted only to the most skilled debate teams. 

Great Oak has had the pleasure of competing at many high schools, but never have they attended a college tournament. However, President Michelle Ko was happy to announce that this year’s team has taken at least one award at every tournament they have attended, and hopes that the honor of a college tournament will one day become a reality. 

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