Since the beginning of the school year, the Speech and Debate team has been quietly excelling in competitions. At the recent Wilson High School Invitational, LOHS students won places against hundreds of others from a total of 29 schools: sophomores, Lauren Zhang (1st Place Open Lincoln Douglas Debate), Claire Tansey (1st Place Novice Public Forum Debate), Julia Martin (1st place Novice Public Forum Debate, 3rd Speaker Novice Public Forum Debate); Freshmen Nidhi Nair (1st Place Novice Dramatic Interpretation, 2nd Place Novice Oratory), Henry Danzelaud (5th Speaker Novice Parliamentary Debate) and Renee Liu (Top Speaker Novice Parliamentary Debate, Top Novice Humorous Interpretation, 4th Place Novice Dramatic Interpretation, Finalist Novice Impromptu).
Speech and debate tournaments are looking very differently this year, as physical attendance is replaced by virtual tools like Discord, Zoom, classroom.clouds and NSDA Campus.
Having tournaments online certainly has pros and cons, Zhang said. “On one hand, they’ve allowed people who want to compete at an advanced level- like me- to do so without having to board a plane to California, find a hotel, get someone to accompany me and take two or three days off school.”
On the other hand, the easier access comes with tradeoffs — namely social intimacy. The speech and debate culture is more than work and competition, Zhang explained. It’s also about people, like how “last year, our team would go to Banning’s after tournaments to hang out and bond.”
Also the novice captain, Zhang explained how coronavirus specifically affects the new members, “who are missing out on the ‘fun’ part of Speech and Debate.”
“Tournament days [were] great opportunities to talk with and get to know teammates, but now you just get to be sad and lonely as you wait for your next [round] in your room all by yourself.”