Speech and Debate Team to Compete in State Tournament


Sydney Chan

Members of the Bishop’s Speech and Debate team pose together between rounds at the Congress SQUALS (State Qualifiers), March 10th-11th, 2023. Pictured from left to right. Rebecca Liu (‘26), Sophie Arrowsmith (‘26), Hanna Liang (‘25), Audrey Lin (‘25), Sydney Chan (‘24).

From April 21-23, the Bishop’s Speech and Debate team will make their way to Carlsbad High School for their biggest competition of the season — states.

The Speech and Debate team here on campus has worked tirelessly this entire school year, competing in all sorts of events. From extemporaneous speaking all the way to ten minute long memorized speeches, the team has engaged in almost every type of debate. And through attending practices during x-period, after school, and even during class for freshmen taking the Intro to Speech and Debate course, they’ve had their fair share of fond memories, late night speech writing, and naturally, heated debates. 

But the California High School Speech Association State Tournament is where everything finally comes together. 

Normally, debate tournaments are split up into three rotations that happen on different weekends. For example, Parliamentary (Parli) debate one week; Congress, Policy, and Lincoln Douglas (LD), another week, and Individual Events (IEs) a week after. But during states, all events take place across one weekend the whole year. 

This means that the impressive sixteen Bishop’s students that qualified for states will get to attend the tournament together — and they are all excited to face off against the best of the best.

As International Extemporaneous (IX) competitor William Guo (‘24) put it, “At states it’s going to be even better because it’s basically the best from all over California.”

Eli Browne (‘23), a leadership Speech and Debate member felt similarly — but talked more specifically about Parli. The event he will compete in for states with Kasie Leung (‘23), Parli, is a form of on-the-spot debate where two team members are given a topic twenty minutes before their round. They then must deliver an argument and a rebuttal, as well as opening and closing statements. 

 “The style of Parli debate that Kasie and I have adopted is pretty standard in the San Diego league, and most of our opponents debate with similar structure and argumentation,” Eli explained. However, as states ecompasses a wider geographic area, this will no longer be the case. “It’s always interesting to compete against teams from other parts of California, especially the Bay Area, and see how they do Parli,” he said.  

Another thing the Bishop’s team is looking forward to about states this year is having it in-person. Though there have been some in-person tournaments since last school year, this is the first year states haven’t been online since 2019. Congress debater and leadership member Audrey Lin (‘25) expressed excitement about getting to do states in-person. “Last year was online…so you were in a Zoom room…for the duration of your round and then everyone just left,” she explained. “But then this time, since we’re gonna be able to see everyone in person, we’ll get the opportunity to meet a lot of other debaters.”

Congress competitor and leadership member Audrey An (‘23) felt similarly. “I’m most excited that it’s in person this year for the first time in my high school experience,” she said. Even as a senior, she has only ever done states on Zoom — meaning this states in a first for all competitors in that regard. 

Audrey An is also thrilled about up-and-coming debate stars. “I’m also excited because we have a freshman in congressional debate and a super talented squad… I really love teaching the younger students what I’ve learned over the years.” 

Despite some sentiments are similar across events, lots of members of the team have very different opinions on what they prefer to compete in — though in states they can only compete in one event even if they qualify for more

For example, Eli enjoys Parli, which is an extemporaneous event. “That type of on-the-go reasoning and thinking on one’s feet makes…[it] fun for me,” he explained.

On the other hand, William enjoys the preparation that comes with IX — an event where you receive your topic in advance and prepare beforehand. “I have to stay up to date on news internationally from Africa to Europe, to Asia, to Latin America,” he explained. 

Debate leadership member Mia Bravo (‘24) also enjoys the preparation aspect — but in LD instead of  IX. “It’s interesting since for a lot of topics one side might seem stronger than the other at first but after researching it becomes a lot more of a toss up,” she said. 

Audrey Lin enjoys Congress — an event modeled after the real U.S. Congress. “ I like both the public speaking part of speech events, but also the back and forth aspect of debate events. She added, “I think, is the best balance between the two.”

One thing everyone seemed to agree on however, was the sense of community in debate, and its incredibly supportive environment. “I have some really close friends on the Bishop’s team and a number of close friends from other schools who compete in debate,” said Eli. “Getting to see them at practices and tournaments makes it very worthwhile.”

William felt similarly — but spoke specifically about LD, an event where two competitors argue to and for a specific resolution.  “The community is absolutely amazing for Lincoln Douglas,” he said. ‘Everybody’s just so nice and friendly, but also at the same time, everybody’s extremely talented, so you can also learn a lot from [them].” 

The Bishop’s Speech and Debate team is certainly an impressive group who has gone above and beyond to grow and excel this year. Good luck to them at states!