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Photo by Rush Pande

Photo by Rush Pande

Photo by Rush Pande

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Students talking. General chatter and conversation. Smiles and laughter. These are the sights and sounds you are greeted with upon entering room 212, home of the West Ranch Speech and Debate team.

The West Ranch Speech and Debate Team is a student club that meets every Tuesday and Thursday after school. In addition to balancing school work, members of this club practice and compete within various events in competitions.

“I am often asked, ‘Why can’t you hang out today?’ I always respond, ‘Speech and Debate,’” states freshman member  Camille Blanco. “[Speech and Debate] is like a sport in many ways. You have to practice hard, work long hours, and have the courage to put yourself out there, time after time, even when you don’t win a trophy.”

You have to practice hard, work long hours, and have the courage to put yourself out there, time after time, even when you don’t win a trophy.”

— Camille Blanco

Common misconceptions about speech and debate is that there is only a limited number of activities one can do within the club, or that speech and debate are both the same thing. However, there are numerous events offered through the speech and debate league, ranging from interpretations to original speeches, and many, many others. Each allows students to express themselves differently.

“Many people equate speech and debate with just giving a speech from the podium,” adds Blanco. “It’s not. Speech and Debate has a flavor for everyone and it’s amazing to see the talent and dedication that these kids put into their work.”

To some, Speech and Debate seems like simply another club with which to beef up a college application. But the club is so much more than that. Through it, students learn important skills, including public speaking and confidence.

“Speech and Debate allows you to truly understand how to articulate your thoughts and emotions, connect with an audience emotionally, respond to ideas with evidence and persuasion, and even think on one’s feet,” explains sophomore member Rushikesh Pande. “[Y]ou are learning essential skills that you will need throughout your life.”

Using these skills, students participate in competitions with schools from across Los Angeles. The experience is both terrifying and exciting, as Pande describes it.

“Hearing speeches from kids… and seeing the drive they had about the ideas they believed in, [it’s] absolutely amazing,” he says.

Currently, the members are preparing for upcoming qualifier tournaments. After performing exceedingly well at all previous competitions, the team has high hopes and will continue to perform their best, all while keeping smiles on their faces. Wish the West Ranch Speech and Debate Team the best of luck! Go Wildcats!

Photo by Jayden Barnholtz
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