State Back in SGV
It hadn’t happened since the 1980’s. Back in a time when MTV actually played music videos and before Gabrielino was even a thought, the 1985 California High School Speech and Debate Championships were held at Alhambra High School. Since then, the San Gabriel Valley had not hosted “State”. Each of the teams the Screamin’ Eagles sent to the California Championships had the luxury of staying at a hotel during the tournament. Until this year.
With Arcadia High School hosting the 2017 State tournament, Gabrielino had an opportunity to save some very valuable money and feel confident on their home turf. However, with the venue so nearby, it was a challenge to make sure the students were focused and prepared for the high level tournament.
While staying at a hotel ‑ with bed checks and sleepless nights ‑ can be a burden for the coaching staff, the annual trip does allow the staff to work longer with students to ensure they are prepared for the competition. It provides the team members with opportunities to bond with each other and focus on the craft for which they have so much passion and have spent so much time.
Every other year, the team leaves school on Thursday, has a team dinner that night at the hotel and sleeps in a little on Friday before leaving the hotel for the school around noon. This year, the team dinner was in the speech room at Gabrielino Thursday night and the students were sent home early to finish their homework for Friday’s classes. The students did not get to sleep in as many of them were back at school by 7am the next morning and attend their classes until finally departing for Arcadia after lunch.
The California State Championships are the longest, most drawn out tournament of the year. Friday, the first day of competition, only offered one round of competition for most of the team members even though they were on the Arcadia campus for eight hours. The tournament is too big to run all at once. There are three patterns of events. The GHS students who qualified in debate did get to have two rounds on the first day.
After spending a night at home in their own beds, the Screamin’ Eagles came to perform their final two preliminary rounds on Saturday. The competitors qualifying for the semi-final round were announced very late Saturday night. The students were forced to celebrate “breaking to Semis” by themselves instead of in hotel rooms with their teammates. With the second most qualifiers for Semis out all all the schools at the tournament, the team was in a great position.
Sunday brought extreme temperatures to the Valley. The small classrooms at Arcadia were packed and sweltering with competitors and observers. After the breaks for finals were announced, Gabrielino had more in the round than any other school in the State.
The Arcadia Performing Arts Center hosted the Awards Ceremony. There the team’s 24 Semi-Finalists and 11 Finalists would be presented with their trophies and learn their places in the 60th annual tournament. Senior Co-Captain Tim led all Screamin’ Eagles by winning the State Championship in International Extemp. Senior Calvin was the State Runner-Up in Humorous Interpretation. The team earned 68 points and placed 2nd out of the 160 plus schools that qualified for the competition. This is the third year in a row GHS has been the runner-up in the State and the 15th time in the past 17 years the team has been the top program in the entire southern half of California. It also marks the second time the team was the top public school program at the competition.
Calvin said, “it was a great experience. I even met the people who wrote the play I’m performing. They came up and introduced themselves to me as the authors and I was shocked. It was a great honor and so very nice of them to seek me out to introduce themselves. They were very supportive and excited I chose their work to perform”
One of the special moments for the students’ experience happened to Co-Captain Tiffany. The senior’s speech this year ties four pieces of literature around the central theme of the rich getting richer and the poor getting by. One of the works she performs is about a young girl discussing how her family has been forced to sell their home and live in their car. Following one of Tiffany’s performances, a woman approached her and shared that before she had become a teacher, she and her child were homeless and living in her car. She told Tiffany she was rooting for her. Tiffany offered her reflections on the impactful interaction she had, “she reminded me of exactly why I participate in this activity. You rarely get to see and meet the people you represent. Seeing someone directly affected by homelessness greatly reaffirmed my purpose in speech.”
One coach commented, “this was a difficult and unique experience for our kids and coaches. Yet, they came focused, worked hard, prepared and performed at or above the same level as our past teams. We are all proud and feel extremely thankful to be a part of such an amazing program.”
The Screamin’ Eagles results and successes at the 2017 State Championships were incredible, record tying and came in spite of not having had a long bus ride or a hotel to fully prepare for the competition. Way to go Screamin’ Eagles.
1st Ever State Champion in Extemp
Senior Co-Captain Tim had a choice to make at the State Qualifying Tournament this past March at Cal. St. Long Beach. After qualifying for the State Championships in both of his speech events, Tim was forced to choose between International Extemp and Original Advocacy. He had success throughout the year in both events and had already qualified to the National Championships in Extemp because he placed in top 14 in it last year at the 2016 Salt Lake City Nationals.
Last year at State, Tim placed 5th in Advocacy while his good friend and teammate, Elysia was 4th . Both students qualified in Advocacy this year and Tim could have tried to close out State with Elysia by earning a 1-2 finish. Instead, he chose to drop his OA and try his luck with Extemp. One of the coaches commented, “he’s going to focus on one event to see what he can do at State and Nationals”.
The entire state saw what Tim could do. After three rounds of competition, Tim was in fourth place going into the Semi-Finals. A decent speech put Tim in fifth place and 6 points behind the leader going into the final round. There, he gave a fantastic speech and performed remarkably during cross examination to make up ground and win the Championship.
Tim commented, “it was not easy and certainly hard fought. There are so many exceptional speakers from teams throughout California. I respect them all very much. I’m proud I was able to represent Gabrielino and the Southern California Debate League in such a great manner”.
Up until this year, the highest placing Gabrielino Extemper had been Kevin Ye placing 2nd in U.S. Extemp in 2011. The best showing in International Extemp had been Alex Ye placing 3rd in 2014 and Patrick Wu placing 3rd in 2010.
The top 56 speakers from 11 different leagues qualified in the event of International Extemp for the State Championships held at Arcadia HS during the last weekend in April. Over 300 students competed at the 11 state qualifying tournaments held across California.
Tim’s friend, Elysia, didn’t make it as far as she did last year in her event, but she didn’t let that dampen her enthusiasm for her teammate. She said, “his accomplishments don’t define him, they happen because of him. His incredible character and personality have shown through more and more throughout the years. He was definitely a light on that final round stage.”
The choice Tim made in a lecture hall at CSU Long Beach in early March didn’t seem like a major decision, but in retrospect, it was very wise and a great move. Tim said, “often times, speech comes down to personal preference from the judges. I can only focus on what I can control. I try to prepare and focus on delivering the best speeches I can. I’m really lucky that my coaches help me and encourage me in the process. Our coaches are some of the best in America and for that, we should all be proud.”
The entire Screamin’ Eagles Team, past and current, are proud of Tim and his record breaking performance. Way to go Tim!!!
Screamin’ Eagles’ Parents Serve Up State Feast
Saturday night at the State Championships was when the GHS parents made their mark on the tournament. Armed with steaming sterno and warming trays, the Screamin’ Eagles Boosters delivered and served an incredible dinner to the 250 plus judges from across the state adjudicating the tournament.
Led by Booster Vice President, Melissa Cook, the meal included handmade tortillas, chicken, steak and fajita vegetables as part of the taco bar along with fresh chips, salsa, and pan dulce sweet bread. Trader Joe’s cookies along with cookies and brownies from Dave and Busters were available as sweet treats to compliment the savory meal. The entire spread was decorated in the same creative manner competitors are used to seeing at all tournaments at Gabrielino.
Preceding the big night, the Parent Boosters solicited cash and food donations from the team’s parents and local businesses. Hundreds of dollars were collected and led to the awesome meal. 10 members of the booster organization were present at Arcadia High School to help serve the judges their final meal of the day before the final two rounds of competition for the day.
The Team released an official statement on the parents’ efforts. It read,
“The Gabrielino dinner provided by our Boosters at the State Championships at Arcadia HS was absolutely incredible. Coaches from around the state were very impressed.
The GHS parents represented Gabrielino and our team with the same class, extra effort, grace and attention to detail our students do each weekend.
The Screamin’ Eagles students placed second at the tournament, but the parents were the clear dining champions!!!!!!
We are exceptionally grateful to our Booster Organization and wish to extend heartfelt thanks to our parents for all their donations, time and efforts. We are so very proud to be able to say we’re a part of the same team as you.
Thank you parents for your hard work and fantastic effort!
Tim and Angelina win $$$
Two Screamin’ Eagles recently combined to win over $400 from the 2017 Ramona Museum of California annual speech competition.
After having an amazing lasagna dinner, senior team captain Tim and junior Angelina presented their speeches to nearly 40 members of the San Gabriel Valley Community. Tim explained the history of the University of California system. Angelina talked about conspiracy theories that originated in California.
After all the speeches concluded, the Ramona Museum of California awarded Tim and Angelina with $400 in prize money.
Both students have already qualified for the National High School Speech & Debate Championships held this summer in Birmingham. Tim commented, “Nationals costs a lot of money. I’m glad I had this opportunity to earn some money to help pay for my trip. I really appreciate the nice folks at the Ramona Museum for giving us this opportunity.”
Angelina also expressed her excitement with the competition. “All the speeches were really interesting. I’m glad the Ramona Museum has this competition every year. I’m looking forward to competing again next year.”
Way to go Screamin’ Eagles
More Points Than Any Other Screamin’ Eagle…Ever
Kobe Bryant is the Los Angeles Lakers’ all-time leading scorer. Cade McNown has thrown for more yards than any other UCLA Bruin and last summer, Kenley Jansen took the top spot in number of saves for the Dodgers. All-time leaders, all-time greats. To be on top for a year is one thing, but to have your entire body of work, your career reach heights never before achieved by someone from the same program is remarkable.
In speech and debate, competitors don’t aim for hoops, throw balls or stand on a mound of dirt. They perform, speak and debate. Their points don’t come in the form of catches or jumpshots. The students accumulate points from the wins, losses and rankings they get in each round. Those who compete often and do well are rewarded with more points than their counterparts.
In the entire 23 year history of the Screamin’ Eagles, no student has ever accumulated more than 2400 points. For the past four years, the top number was 2-3-5-8 held by legendary Debater/Extemper Anna Diep. This year, senior Alexandra jumped over the 2400 mark to claim the top spot on Gabrielino’s All-Time point list.
Currently, “Lex” is ranked 1st in the East La/Orange Country District, 10th overall in California, 6th among all students in the Humorous Interp category in America and 79th among the thousands of students throughout the country.
Lex has competed in almost every one of the 16 different events in Speech and Debate. She has done debate, speech, acting, judging, and showcase performances. If it is offered, chances are she has entered it. And she’s not done. Alexandra will compete in the State Championships later this month and will be making her 4th straight trip the National Championships this summer.
Sometimes, her enthusiasm has to be tempered by her coaches. “She is the Energizer Bunny. She just wants to perform,” says one of her coaches. “It is so admirable. However, there are some times when the coaching staff has had to limit her speeches and/or events to preserve her voice and health. If she was a football player, we would have to hide her helmet. If she was a baseball pitcher, her pitch count would be off the charts. She is such a role model to all her teammates. We tell the students, their four years are like a buffet and they choose what and how much to eat. Lex has devoured the entire buffet and everything in the kitchen. She has become one of the legends in the storied history of this program.”
It hasn’t been easy. Lex’s enthusiasm has not always been accepted by her peers and teachers. She often hears people say, “Speech Geek” or “why do you spend so much time in speech?” Lex just shrugs off the ignorance of others and lets it fuel her passion for the activity. The four year Screamin’ Eagle has successfully balanced her passion for performing and her school work. This year, she was named an Academic All-American by the National Speech & Debate Association.
When Kenley Jansen broke the Dodger Saves Record, they gave him the ball. When Kobe became the Laker’s point leader, ESPN did a montage of Kobe’s Greatest Moments. When Lex broke the GHS Speech & Debate point record, no one said anything. In fact, she wasn’t even aware at the time she broke it. She went in to the next round and did what she loves doing, perform, speak and debate.
Congratulations Lex, you’re our All-Time Point Leader!!!!
Deandra Makes 19
For the second year in a row, Deandra waited for her final opportunity before she qualified for the National Championships. Even though she just missed qualifying in U.S. Extemp the weekend before, the four-year senior picked herself up, dusted herself off and gave it one more try.
Deandra said, “I didn’t have any expectations going in but it was the first tournament where I actually believed in myself and my abilities wholeheartedly. Speech has its ups and downs, but if you continue to work hard, it usually works out in the end”. Her perseverance paid off and she qualified for the National Championships for the second, and last, time.
It wasn’t easy. Deandra has been one spot away from qualifying for Nationals in her main event, U.S. Etemp for three years in a row. After repeatedly coming up short it is difficult to find the energy and drive necessary to make a run at qualifying. She had to defeat her teammates in prelims and in the semi-finals and then defeat one final student from another school in the final round.
She will be joining 18 of her teammates in Alabama this summer. Great Job Deandra!
This Tournament Is Different
When senior Calvin severely sprained his ankle playing for Gabrielino’s volleyball team earlier in the week, his first thought was, “how am I going to do my speech at Nat Quals this weekend?” He spent the next three days with his foot elevated every time he was in the speech room. This dedication and determination are testaments to the intensity and importance of this tournament.
Calvin and 28 of his teammates were selected by the Screamin’ Eagles’ Coaching Staff to represent the team at the National Qualifying Tournament held again this year at San Marino High School. Each student had his or her own challenge to overcome; be it the expectation to qualify to Nationals again or the pressure to make it for the first time. The seniors, in particular, had to put the joy/sadness/excitement/suspense of college admissions on the backburner for a few days to focus solely on their performances.
Only those who have actually participated in this activity truly understand the magnitude of the tournament. After months of practicing and attending competitions with no future implications, this one matters. This one opens the door to an opportunity to compete against the most talented performers in all of America. A select group is given an opportunity to spend a week submerged in an activity for which they have so much passion. For many students, this weekend was the last opportunity to perform their speech for the year. For the seniors, it could have been their last performance ever.
The San Marino campus was much quieter and emptier than most meets. This weekend was limited to the very best from the top programs in East Los Angeles and Orange Counties. The stress and pressure was so high, even the first time observer can sense it.
Most meets throughout the year have adjudicators who know less about the competition than the speakers. This weekend was different. Half of the judges at the tournament were, themselves, National Qualifiers, State and National Finalists and Champions. The other coaches know these veterans. They had great experience and success in the activity and are not easily impressed. Students competing in this tournament had to deal with the pressure of going against the best of the best from the other schools and performing in front of some of the most talented and awarded speakers this area has ever produced.
Team Co-Captain Tim was there the entire weekend only to provide support. By making it to the Semi-Finals at Nationals last year in Salt Lake City, he automatically qualified for this year’s Championships. In spite of knowing he was already going to Birmingham, Tim felt extreme stress throughout the weekend. As any coach will tell you, the pressure builds when the results are entirely out of your control. Often times the fans on the sidelines go through a more violent emotional roller coaster than those who actually have a hand in the game itself.
The first day of competition was on St. Patrick’s Day; however, there were no pretty rainbows and exchanges of gold foil wrapped chocolates. To some, it might have even been as unnerving as the classic horror movie, Leprechaun, starring Jennifer Aniston. Luckily, the first day only meant two rounds of competition.
Saturday was the day where the memories are made. After a third prelim round, the tension was only heightened by disagreements between tournament officials that slowed the meet to a crawl. Nothing adds to the suspense and stress more than waiting…and waiting some more. The semi-final round was posted followed not so quickly after by the finals. Eventually, the day would end, several hours later than scheduled, with tears of joy or sorrow at the awards ceremony.
Senior Sarah had never qualified for State or Nationals in her extensive career on the team. Down to her last chance to get to a post-season tournament, she made the most of the opportunity. She and her freshman partner, Sam, heard their names called, sending them to the speech equivalent of “The Big Dance”.
On the opposite end, senior (and team photographer), Lex, became only the fifth Gabrielino student to qualify for Nationals four years in a row. She will be honored at the tournament with the other handful of competitors who made it to the Championships each year they were in high school.
Co-Captain Maya, who will be making her second trip to Nationals, said, “I’m so excited. There is so much important history in Birmingham. It is the place where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous Letter From a Birmingham Jail Cell. I’m so happy to get to go there and compete against the best in America”.
The team won 5 of the 8 events and took 14 of the 24 available spots available for the National Championships this summer in Birmingham, Alabama. In total, 18 members of the Screaming Eagles will be representing the East LA County/Orange County District. The tournament team championship plaque was also awarded to GHS.
Standing in front of everyone at the Award’s Ceremony, Calvin propped himself up on his crutches as he accepted his National Qualifier Plaque. His speech career will be extended into the summer as he gets to travel with 17 of his teammates to Birmingham to go to Nationals.
Congratulations Screamin’ Eagles and Good Luck at Nationals!!!!
20 In a Row
In 1997, Great Britain turned over control of Hong Kong to the Chinese Government. The Dow Jones topped 7,000 for the first time ever. Titanic ruled the box office, the movie Contact was released and Seinfeld dominated television sets and office banter across the country. The Spice Girls were the queens of pop and their dolls were must haves for Christmas. 1997 was also the last year The Screamin’ Eagles were not the Southern California Debate League Champions.
In 1998, Gabrielino’s League Championship team had 22 finalists, scored 62 sweepstakes points and had 11 State Qualifiers in route to their first ever league championship. Two decades have passed and as the sun set on the campus of Cal. St. Long Beach, the members of Gabrielino’s Speech & Debate Team gathered in a way-too-small lecture hall to collect their 20th straight league championship trophy. The 2017 Screamin’ Eagles put 99 in semis and 51 in finals, accumulated over 300 points and ended up with 40 members of their team advancing to the California State Championships next month.
And it almost didn’t happen.
Less than 24 hours before the team was to travel to the competition, coaches discovered the bus company scheduled to transport all the students was temporarily shut down due to safety concerns. In most circumstances, parents could step in and fix the problem. However, the vast size of the Screamin’ Eagles makes any trip a challenge for even the most seasoned travel agent.
After some persuasive phone calls by twice retired bus secretary/czar Mrs. Solis and emergency purchase requests by Mrs. Ott and the SGUSD office, buses were secured and the streak looked like it would continue.
A three week virus, however, had taken its toll on the students draining their energy and forcing some to spend time in the hospital. The one day schedule of the tournament meant some students would be giving 10 speeches-almost two hours of talking-in a span of eight hours. Yet, the speakers, dressed in their best power suits, willed themselves through the rounds. They persevered and extended their streak.
Back in the late 1900s, Gabrielino High School was affectionately called, “Bungalino” because the former elementary and middle school buildings was dwarfed by the vast number of portable classrooms all over the campus. GHS was struggling for respect from the community and begging citizens in San Gabriel and officials in Sacramento for money so a school could be built to mirror the excellence the students and staff were creating. The Screamin’ Eagles quickly became the flagship of the school and would quickly grow to become the premiere program in the entire district. Principal and public relations genius, Dan Mooney, touted the success of the team to local newspapers and television stations. He even made sure the Los Angeles Country Board of Supervisors honored the team at a meeting.
20 years have passed since that first championship. Every single Gabrielino principal has been able to claim their speech team was league champions. Every single student who has graduated from GHS was a part of a class that took home the first place team trophy from the campus just blocks away from Pacific Coast Highway. The Screamin’ Eagles were winning championships before any of its current members were born.
The team is currently ranked as the 2nd largest team in all of America. The fanfare has faded. Winning has become as expected as traffic and palm trees. The Screamin’ Eagles Speakers have put Gabrielino on the map. All across the country, people who hear the name often mistake it for a private school, but there is no doubt they know GHS has a really good speech and debate team.
The buildings have changed, staff members have come and gone and over 8000 students have received diplomas. Yet the team has continued to win and offer those willing to sacrifice their weekends some of the greatest opportunities high school students can have.
Out Early? Why Would We Do That?
Over the years, the Southern California Debate League’s Spring Novice Speech Tournament has become one of the fastest run tournaments of the year. Large numbers of rooms and judges allow for 6 rounds, tabbing and awards to happen in just under 7 hours. The meet’s speed is as amazing as the young adults performing at it.
Leave it to adults to mess it all up. In a very close and contested vote, the league recently voted to add a final round to both Fall and Spring Novice Tournaments. In spite of the tournament organizers explaining three and a half hours (a 50% increase in time for a very small number of students to get a 14% increase in rounds) would be required to run the additional round, some coaches narrowly got the motion passed.
Maybe they all needed a reminder of how wonderful a Saturday tournament can be when it allows time for all the participants to have an evening dinner with their families and loved ones.
The 2017 running of Spring Novice at Garfield High School hopefully provided the necessary memory jolt. The tournament ran like clockwork thanks to hard working varsity students who judged and ran it.
Overall, the team won half the trophies and used the meet as a final tune-up before their league championships/state qualifiers coming up in March. .Despite being the smallest class in team history, the sophomores held their own in the JV category. The novice team continued their trend of having new break out performers each tournament. Freshman Nolan who won both Oratorical and Advocacy commented, “It was a great tournament. I’m really grateful for it since it’s before State Quals”.
This may be the last time Spring Novice ends while the sun is still up, and the Screamin’ Eagles made the most of their opportunity.
Way to go Screamin’ Eagles!
Seniors Lead in Spring Varsity Win
In a fitting celebration for Chinese New Year, The Screamin’ Eagles Class of 2017 let off metaphorical fireworks through their performances in the rounds at the Southern California Debate League’s Spring Varsity Speech Tournament.
After the legendary Class of 2016 graduated, the team felt it was in great hands with the upcoming seniors. That belief was often called into question during the first few months of this season. A powerful novice crop of students seemed to be carrying the team through their performance, preparation and passion.
On Saturday, the seniors let their collective voices be heard. Gabrielino won eight of the twelve events. Each and every one of those champions will be graduating this year. For some, it was their last time to perform since they will not be on the team competing at the League Championships in March. They all made the most out of their opportunity.
The Screamin’ Eagles put 87 students in the Semi-Final round and had 45 in Finals. The team totaled 277 points while the other 18 teams combined garnered 233. The tournament also served as a partial qualifier for the State Tournament. Any student who placed first or second at the league’s Fall Varsity Tournament last month would make it to the California Speech and Debate Championships with a similar showing at this tournament. Five of the team’s members placed high enough to earn their way to State. It was only fitting that four of those were seniors. The lone student not in the special class winning an early bid was freshman phenom Felicia who qualified in Expository Speaking.
Senior Co-Captain Tiffany who won Thematic Interpretation and a spot in the State Championships said of the performance by the seniors, “we had a shaky beginning and we’ve shown in performance and our growing leadership skills, we know what it takes. I’m sure we seniors will continue to trend upward by making the necessary commitment and sacrifices to make the rest of this year…amazing.”
Leadership is a rare trait and can be overbearing for even the best prepared teenagers. Being an example and having the confidence to show others the way is easily dismissed through any number of excuses available to high school students. As one of the coaches stated, “it’s [leadership is] a process. It takes time and effort. Some kids never quite get it during their high school careers. We only hope we have given them the opportunity to learn what it takes so that someday, when it really matters, they will remember the lessons and take the next step.”
On the day when people around the world celebrated a new year of the Chinese Lunar Calendar, the Screamin’ Eagles’ Senior Class took that next step. They stepped up on the stage and represented their classmates, their team and their school in grand fashion.
Congrats Screamin’ Eagles!!!
Sun Shines on Screamin' Eagles at Logan
In the early morning hours, just before sunrise as the team was waiting to board the bus for the trip up to Oakland, there was one question on the minds of several coaches and parents of the Screamin’ Eagles: how would the weather be on the 5 Freeway be over The Grapevine? While the Los Angeles basin rarely dips below 40 degrees, the mountain ranges separating LA from Northern California often get snow and interstates through the higher elevations are completely shut down from time to time. According to early reports that morning from CalTrans, the roadway was safe and open. In less than two hours, the answer would be discovered first hand.
It only lasted a few minutes, a couple of miles. Those sleeping or watching Captain America: Civil War missed it, but a handful people on the bus saw the snow falling on the interstate and the front windshield as they traveled over the top of the mountain. The team’s courageous driver, Portia, skipped the traditional rest area stop because of the rain and cold temperatures. However, before Remember the Titans had begun, the sun came through the clouds and stayed out for the rest of the trip.
At the team meeting on Friday, the students were asked who was making their first trip to Logan. Over half the hands in the packed room went up. It was clear that while the bus had been filled with people and luggage, it had not brought a lot of experience. What was present was a new found energy, a will and determination. The team members worked hard and behaved exceptionally well throughout the weekend.
Included in the 84 teams from all over the country competing at 2017 The James Logan High School National Speech and Debate Invitational were no less than eight programs who had won National School of Excellence Awards. The tournament offered an excellent opportunity for the Screamin’ Eagles to perform for and compete against some of the best students in America.
The 2011 team is the only one from Gabrielino to have won the prestigious tournament outright. This year, the awards ceremony on Sunday evening would not produce a second championship for the Eagles. The team placed fourth overall (3rd in the speech category) losing to two perennial private school powerhouses and Logan. Of the 45 students on the trip, 30 of them broke to out rounds totaling 47 entries in the Quarter-Finals, 17 in Semis, and 7 Finalists. Team Captain and Senior Tim won Advocacy and placed second in International Extemp. Freshman Felicia represented the newbies by placing second in Drama.
2017 has already delivered several rainy days and there will probably be more to come, but for one weekend, the sun shone brightly on the Screamin’ Eagles.
The Kids Play at Fall Varsity
This year, Los Angeles Lakers’ Coach Luke Walton has a young roster and many are chanting, "let the kids play". In professional football, the current top two vote getters for the Pro Bowl, football's All-Star Game, are a pair of rookies from the Dallas Cowboys.
The Screamin' Eagles are falling in line with these two iconic teams. They're letting their novice students play, and so far, they have performed at an all-star level. The Southern California Debate League's Fall Varsity Tournament provided an arena for the young-ins to compete against the seasoned varsity students from around the area. After four rounds of intense competition, the first-year students earned enough points to place 5th at the meet all by themselves. Combine their points with those from the rest of the team and Gabrielino won the annual event for the 17th straight year.
The inspiration of the day, if not the year, came from one of the novices who, because of an injury, performed all her speeches in a full leg brace. Katherine moved between her rounds in a wheelchair with her leg outstretched and in a full brace. When it came time to speak, she got up from the chair, delivered her messages and popped between her characters while steadying herself on her good leg. Most people would have seen the injury as an excuse to get out of the competition, but the freshman refused to let an injury take away her chance to compete. No television cameras caught her determination. Morning talk shows won't talk about her tenacity. There won't be any films made about her incredible courage. But the kids saw it. The team members are able to say, "I was there when..." Her story will live on in the lore of the Screamin' Eagles and be told over and over again in the speech and debate classroom at Gabrielino. Katherine's day ended with a 3rd place finish in her event. She topped all the other students, including most of the more experienced varsity members from her own team. One of the assistant coaches remarked, "we should name an award for her, call it the Katherine award and hand it out at the banquet".
Katherine and her fellow novice speakers reflected the passion and energy from the entire team. GHS had almost 50 finalists, won eight of the twelve main events and accumulated over 200 points. Students who placed 1st or 2nd in their events also completed the first step to automatically qualifying for the California Championships without having to compete at the qualifying tournament. The league refers to it as, "getting a leg". Two legs and you're going to State. Freshman Felicia won the event of Expository Speaking and upon learning of the added honor asked, "what's a leg?" Indeed, they are kids, they are playing, they are learning and they are succeeding.
The future seems to be in good hands for the Screamin' Eagles. Congratulations!!!
Novice Tournament Small but Successful
The Screamin' Eagles have entered year two of the additional course requirements for students and their numbers have rebounded a little. The novice team is larger than last year but about half the average number over the past two decades.
Regardless of numbers, the team remained on track at the Southern California Debate League's Fall Novice Tournament hosted for the 20th time by Gabrielino.
This year marks the first time students can compete in almost any two events, regardless of pattern. That meant some competitors were running between rounds for part of the day and observing for the other half. The change opens up new events for students but overall is not the best use of time. One coach explained, "when the league voted last May to allow schools to save time and money by offering all events at the same time for the State Qualifying Tournament, some coaches wanted to remove the 'one event per pattern' rule and they got it passed." Gabrielino's staff quickly remarked the Screamin' Eagles and a few other schools would benefit greatly from this move since the teams regularly compete at invitationals without particular event limitations and thus, GHS representatives proposed extending the allowance to all league speech tournaments. A Screamin' Eagle insider commented, "we don't think either proposal is the best use of time, but you can't have one without the other. The season will give us a lot to look at and consider moving forward".
The rules might have been a little different, the team is smaller, but the results were the same. Gabrielino won almost 20 trophies. One captain said, "I'm really proud of our novices. They had a great tournament." The future looks bright for the team.
Way to go Screamin' Eagles!
Waldo is Featured by L.A. Times
Former Screamin' Eagles Team Captain, Waldo Yan, was recently featured in a video posted by the Los Angeles Times. The 2-time National Qualifier can be seen here
Tuesday morning, KPCC Radio's program, Take Two had two GHS students on to critique the Presidential Debate. SGUSD Superintendent John Pappalardo commented, "the students were wonderful". Thank you for the opportunity KCPP!!!!
Screamin' Eagles Win Jack Howe Memorial
In the team area that housed the GHS Speech & Debate Team all weekend as they competed at the CSU Long Beach Invitational sat a single cactus in a field of other plants. It sat in a pot, unable to spread its roots to fully grow. It didn't fit in. It wasn't supposed to be there. In a tournament filled with students from private schools, wealthy public institutions and expensive after school academies, The Screamin Eagles, like the cactus, didn't quite fit. They weren't supposed to be there. But they were there. Students who speak English as a second language or are still learning the language aren't supposed to have success against those whose great-grandparents called America home. But they did.
The tournament was certainly not without its challenges. The campus is quite large. Several students competing at the tournament had an entourage of parents and private coaches going from round to round to help prepare or carry visual aids and easels. The Gabrielino kids lugged their expos cases up and down stairs and across a vast campus- that just might occupy multiple time zones- all by themselves. The students also battled temperatures hovering around 100 degrees for two days. The sign read Long Beach, but the weather seemed more like Long Desert. However, like the cactus, the students persevered.
If 14 hours of competition on Saturday wasn't enough, over 50 students went back on Sunday to compete in Semi-Finals. The team had 31 entries in the final round. At one point during the weekend, some parents brought lawn chairs to the team area as if a little league game was about to break out. They didn't see any home runs, they didn't cheer for any touchdowns. They were lucky enough to watch a very large group of teenagers spend their weekend becoming better speakers, learning to communicate, and preparing to perform.
At the end of the weekend in the field of 93 schools, the lone cactus, the one team different than most, ended up as the Champions of the 2016 Jack Howe Memorial.
Twenty years ago, the Icebreaker began with just a, “let’s see what happens”. The Screamin’ Eagles Coaching Staff put together an event where experienced speakers could guide new students step by step through a tournament without having the challenge of finding even more judges.
After two decades, the simple idea has persevered. The theme has changed over the years from autumn harvest to real pumpkins to plastic pumpkins and now to pirates in honor of National Talk Like A Pirate Day (September 19th).
The 20th edition of the tournament was not without challenges. Gabrielino’s internet – crucial to record all 5000+ scores – was completely down for the first portion of the day. There were no custodians available to work to unlock or lock all the classrooms. Yet, in typical Screamin’ Eagles fashion, they made the best out of it with much less than ideal conditions. In fact, because of the extra efforts of the GHS parents, students, alumni and coaching staff, the tournament actually finished early.
Way to go Screamin' Eagles
Excellence With Record Numbers
22 students, 6 different competition venues, 3 vans and a pick up truck. There will be entire countries competing in the Olympic Games this summer in Rio that don't have near the logistical challenges The Screamin Eagles faced at the National Championships last month in Salt Lake City. Gabrielino qualified a school and area record number of competitors for the week long event. While most people were excited about the feat, the seasoned coaching staff knew full well of the daunting task of getting all the students prepared for and shuttled to the several different locations. "Thank goodness for technology," one coach quipped as the texts from the team's coaches came through her cell phone indicating all the students had arrived back at the hotel from a long day of performances.
The trip started out with the entourage loading the vast amount of their luggage into the bed of a rented Ford F150 pick up truck while the gracious Salt Lake City Airport Police watched the operation run like clock work. The remaining luggage and team members got in the vans and the caravan headed off to the hotel that would be their new short-term home away from home. Luckily, the thunderstorms that would blow into town for a large part of the week were nowhere to be found during the arrival and departure days. "We knew it wasn't going to rain when we got there. We weren't sure about coming back though," said one of the coaches.
The team made their annual trip to the store to pick up food and supplies for the long stay and then sat down to eat together and perform their speeches for each other on the eve of the star of competition. Almost every school at the competition could all share a meal in a hotel room; however for Gabrielino's contingent, nothing is simple. The hotel stepped in and allowed the team to use its dining hall for the dinner and performances. One of the team captains commented, "I think the hotel was actually rooting for us. They were really nice, friendly and helpful". Each room was required to make something for the meal which turned out to include salads, mac & cheese, sweet tea and desserts of Oreo cheesecake and strawberry shortcakes.
Getting around a new town is difficult. Getting around a new town with a high school student navigating for the coach/driver is an adventure. Years of going to Nationals has proven that SAT scores and GPAs are not an indicator of a sense of direction. If only traveling to a destination could come in the form of multiple-choice questions. After calling out a turn too late, junior extemper (and National Semi-Finalist) Tim said, "we would not have been able to see this great view of the city if I followed the navi".
The first two days of competition split up the group by events and required them to compete and judge at 5 schools in the suburbs and one hotel in downtown Salt Lake City. When the first breaks were announced, almost half of the students found themselves making it to the top 25% of the competition field.
By day three, the vast majority of competitors were eliminated which allowed tournament organizers to hold all the performances at one site; the site closest to the hotel. Incidentally, the command to "turn right at the (never-to-be-seen) Sonic Drive-In Restaurant" which came from Deandra caused those riding in the pick-up truck to arrive to the venue considerably later than the rest of the group and the junior making her first trip to Nationals to be relieved from her navigating responsibilities for the remainder of the trip. In the end, everything worked out well because The Screaming Eagles would have no less than 8 members recognized on the grand stage of the Salt Lake City Convention Center in front of 2000 people in attendance and thousands more watching the Livestream simulcast on the Internet.
Gabrielino's contingent had Tim place 13th in International Extemp, the duo of Giselle and Alan finish 9th, and Christin and Victoria crowned as the National Champions of Duo and awarded for being in a very select group to qualify for Nationals all four years in high school. Additionally, three members of The Screamin' Eagles amazing coaching staff received awards for their accomplishments over the years. To cap the entire week off, the team was awarded as a National School of Excellence for the ninth year in a row because they placed 8th overall and 4th in the Speech Category out of over 4,000 schools that participate in the activity in America and around the globe.
The day after the competition concluded, as in past years, was set aside as the lone "fun day" the team gets all year long. Team members toured a working farm, got temporary tattoos and tried their hands at miniature golf, go carts, bumper boats and air hockey. The final day also allowed one more time for the group to eat together before returning home to start their summer break. It also marked a final time for the nine graduating seniors to participate in a speech and debate activity before heading off to college.
This summer, NBC will air countless stories about the challenges various athletes faced in getting to a point where they can showcase their talents at the Olympics. Sadly, not many will know the heart, sacrifice and dedication this group of people gave to perform at the largest academic competition in the entire world. Luckily, the students and coaches and members of The Screamin' Eagles Speech and Debate Team are fully aware and those 22 kids have the memories, life lessons, and experiences to prove it.
Twins Are Four-Time National Qualifiers
Out of the thousands of students and alumni members of the Screamin’ Eagles, only two had ever qualified for Nationals all four years in high school. Victoria and Cristin doubled the number and added an exclamation mark. Combined, they account for 96 of the Team’s 1626 total rounds of competition in 20 years at Nationals. Their places at Nationals were, 12th (freshmen), 5th (sophomores), 20th (juniors) and Champions as seniors. Two times they performed on the grand stage of the final round in front of over 2000 people.
Congratulations Cristin and Victoria on an incredible speech career
Giselle and Alan 9th in Duo
Giselle’s third trip to the National Championships was a charm. Wrapping up a career that included 32 rounds of competition at Nationals, the Screamin’ Eagles’ Co-Captain and her senior partner, Alan, finished 9th out of over 200 qualifiers from across America.
Congrats Alan & Giselle
Tim Places 13th in Extemp
Tim competed all the way to the Semi-Finals in International Extemp. And since Tim is only a junior, that means he has now already qualified for the 2017 National Championships next summer in Alabama
Way to go Tim!!!
Screamin Eagles Buck Geography at State Championships
Northern California, historically, has not been kind to The Screamin’ Eagles. Sites for the State Championships alternate between the southern and northern halves of California. The past 20 years have seen Gabrielino fare considerably better at the State Tournaments held closer to home. Led by their incredible senior and junior qualifiers, the team of 43 qualifiers bucked the past and performed their way to a record performance this year at Mission College in Santa Clara.
After three long days of competition, the team shone as brightly and as hot as the So. Cal sun they left behind. A best-in-the-state 25 students qualified for the semi-finals in their speech events and 16 got to the Final Round; also tops in the state among all schools.
The Screamin’ Eagles beat their previous team total points set just one year ago by scoring 87 sweepstakes points and finished 1st in the speech category for the 2nd year in a row (3rd time ever) out of the 150+ schools who qualified for the tournament. Overall, Gabrielino placed 2nd in the entire state of California again this year.
Oh Oh Oh State Champions
Senior Sofia and Junior Michelle became the first Screamin Eagles to win State Championships in the events Original Advocacy (OA) and Oratorical Interpretation (OI). In the past 16 years, Gabrielino has won 17 individual State Championships.
Congratulations Screamin’ Eagles
Nat Quals Congress Adds to The Nationals Team
The Screamin’ Eagles added to their Nationals Team when junior Deandra qualified at the East LA District Congress Tournament. She will be joining 17 of her teammates at the National Championships this summer in Salt Lake City, Utah
17 Students Qualify for National Championships
The National Speech and Debate Association added a new event this year. The Association calls it, Program Oral Interpretation. Those in California have known the event as Thematic Interpretation for years. Those students who have competed in TI for years finally have their chance to participate in the National Championships. The TIers took advantage of the opportunity and nabbed both spots on the team representing the East Los Angeles County/Orange County District. In total, The Screamin’ Eagles claimed 15 of the 22 available speech spots and will be sending 17 students to Salt Lake City, Utah this summer to compete at Nationals.
Way to go Screamin’ Eagles
19th Straight So. Cal Debate League Championship
43 Students of the Screamin’ Eagles qualified for the State Championships next month in Santa Clara. The team was crowned Champions of the Southern California Debate League for the 19th straight year
The Santa Anita Double Crown
Just as the horses were doing their final warm ups of the day at the historic Santa Anita Racetrack, the Screamin’ Eagles were just a few blocks away warming up their vocal cords in preparation for the Southern California Debate League’s Spring Varsity Tournament.
These students don’t come from the richest or largest or most famous metaphorical farm- their educational stable houses an extraordinary number of students who call English their second language. This small institution is the only high school in the district and its programs have to get by on shoestring budgets. Title I, in this case, stands for low socioeconomics- not a big stakes race with a high payout. Looking at where these kids get their training, even a tourist visiting the Southern California horse track for the first time would not bet money on this team.
Here is where the seasoned odds maker displays his knowledge. You have to know the heart and drive of the Gabrielino Screamin’ Eagles. The fire in their eyes and the passion in their souls allow these ponies to run with the well trained and financed thoroughbreds. These kids not only run, they win. With the bloodlines of their siblings who have competed before them, this year’s team is certainly on pace with the best of them.
While horse-racing has the Triple Crown, several students were in line for the Double Crown at Spring Varsity. Getting two legs at the two varsity level league tournaments means an automatic bid to the California State Championships without having to risk anything at the upcoming state qualifying meet.
When the 5 rounds of competition were finished and the dust had settled, the Screamin’ Eagles ended up with over 100 entries in the semi-finals, over 50 in finals, champions in 10 of the 12 events and 6 students earning automatic bids to the California State Championships later this year. For the 16th year in a row, Gabrielino won the tournament and extended their league speech winning streak which dates back to the turn of the millennium. Against all odds, The Screamin’ Eagles continuously excel.
For over 80 years, the Santa Anita Racetrack has crowned champions and is even the current host of Gabrielino’s annual high school graduation ceremony. On this day though, the winners had their ceremony, not on the dirt trak with its picturesque San Gabriel Mountains in the background, but in the gymnasium at Arcadia High School. There were no wreaths of roses or blankets of carnations; the students wore suits and dresses and were presented with small plastic trophies. No television stations or newspapers sent reporters, nor did helicopters and cranes hold cameras to capture all the drama for a world-wide broadcast. Heck, most people probably didn’t even know the event was happening. However, to the 600-plus students who spent 18 hours at the tournament, their competition was just as exciting, memorable and joyful as any race taking place less than a mile away.
Way to go Screamin’ Eagles.
Gabrielino Has Two National Merit FINALISTS!
Screamin’ Eagles Senior Alan who qualified for the National Speech and Debate Championships in Humor this past June and Senior Extemper Jason have now made made it to the final round of the National Merit Scholarship competition. They are now in the top 1% out of almost 1.5 million students nationwide for academic excellence.
Congratulations Alan and Jason, you are the latest in the long standing tradition of the GHS Speech & Debate Team being the training arena for so many of Gabrielino’s best and brightest students.
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The Screamin’ Eagles have consistently placed in the top 13 schools in America and have been THE top program in the southern half of California for 14 of the past 16 years. Only one or two of those schools ahead of us in America are Title 1 schools (low socioeconomic schools). Speech and Debate is an activity greatly favoring rich students and schools.
Donations help us give all 250 students various opportunities throughout the year and not just a select few.
If you would like to support one of the best speech & debate programs in America, please send check or money order to:
Gabrielino High School Speech & Debate Team
1327 S. San Gabriel Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Payable to: Gabrielino HS Speech Team