DOWNEY - Once long forgotten for many decades, Downey High School's speech and debate team is now in full swing thanks to coach Jennifer King's motivation to bring it back to life.A former debater herself, King decided to share her interest with likeminded students. Within three years, significant improvements have convinced more students to join; the team began with only seven members but is now offered as a class with more than 20 active participants. Speech and debate captain Genesis Anguiano is in charge of several responsibilities in order to make the team successful, which include recruiting new members, assisting with writing speeches and cases, and registering the team in competitions. In the midst of these tasks, Anguiano is proud of her team's accomplishments. "Although our team is only three years old, we've already won a significant amount of awards," said Anguiano. "Last year, our policy team made it to the state tournament. This year, two of our Lincoln Douglas debaters won second and third place at the California Lutheran University Invitational, and one of our members has consistently placed in Original Advocacy. Our chances seem very high at making it to the state tournament again." Balancing her duties as captain with a rigorous junior year schedule does result in staying up for many hours into the night, but Anguiano has no regrets in joining the speech and debate team. "Being captain is definitely a challenge at times, especially in addition to class work and the other activities I participate in," said Anguiano. "Despite this, I love my position; it has helped me develop as a person more than anything else I've ever done." Matt Estrada, a 2010 graduate of Downey High, served as one of the key members who helped the team grow. Even after moving on to college, Estrada still remains a strong supporter of speech and debate. "Looking back, being a part of the speech and debate team was definitely one of the highlights of my high school experiences," said Estrada. "Those of us on the team became a really close family and I made some lifelong friends who I still talk to and hang out with today." According to studies by a Yale professor, students who learn skills like critical thinking and communication are more prepared to succeed in college. Although participating in competitions requires many hours of dedicated work, the opportunity to improve practical skills while gaining knowledge about world affairs makes speech and debate a worthwhile commitment.
********** Published: March 3, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 46