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Rocking Success at Nationals In Spite Of Challenges


When you start a trip sitting on a plane behind two rock stars, it may be a good indicator your upcoming journey is going to be Montanowild and crazy. On their way to the National Speech and Debate Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, the Screamin’ Eagles found themselves seated behind heavy metal bassist Jerry Montano and drummer Scot Coogan. The musicians have played with Ace Frehley (Kiss), Stephen Pearcy (Ratt), and Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue). They were on their way to play a festival in Atlantic City with some of the all-time Rock Legends.  


As it turned out, meeting the metal duo was a perfect indicator of the journey that quickly became the longest trip the Screamin’ Eagles have taken in the team's 28-year history.  


After traveling halfway across the country to Louisville, the 15 Screamin’ Eagles competitors who qualified for Nats spent their first few days in the Bluegrass State practicing and preparing for the National Tournament.


Excitement and anticipation seemed to radiate through all the competitors. For the first time since June 2019, the best high school speakers in America were coming together, in person, to compete. Finally, students no longer had to Zoom into their rounds from their bedrooms, garages, and even dining rooms. The world’s largest academic competition was back and The Screamin’ Eagles were more than ready.


kids with horseHowever, once the sixth and final preliminary round was completed on the second day of competition, a text came through that changed the entire trajectory for the rest of the trip. Like a heavy metal drum solo, the tension rose. One of the members became ill and tested positive for Covid-19. 


Quickly, the Gabrielino administration instructed all students who shared a room with the team member to test. An additional student then tested positive. Unfortunately, after testing the rest of the team, another student, as well as two of the three coaches-turned-drivers received the same results. Immediately they were confined to their hotel rooms.  Once again, team members were in their bedrooms for a speech competition.  


In the midst of the chaos of the competition and covid testing, nine Screamin’ Eagles advanced to the Octofinal rounds of their events. This was a huge achievement, with only the top 60 students (out of 250-450 qualifiers) in each event moved forward.  The students, however, had to perform their next two rounds knowing some of their teammates were isolating in their hotel rooms. 


A and GRising to the occasion yet again, six of the nine Octofinalists advanced to the Quarterfinal rounds and earned two more opportunities to spread their message. Top 30 in the nation in their respective events, GabSpeech proved nothing could truly stop them. The team was down to six competitors, one coach, and one van to escort the students to their performance venue for the third day of competition.  


It was a struggle to shuttle competitors back and forth while ensuring the remaining team members at the hotel were comfortable, and well, in their rooms. On top of fighting for a spot in the Semi-Final round, the Screamin’ Eagles had to do everything they could to prevent more students from catching the disease. Yet again, the team rose to the challenge and performed their best. Soon enough, breaks were announced and four-time National qualifiers and senior team co-captains, Melanie “Melmo” Hsiang and Gabriel “Frank”-McPheter were preparing for their Semi-Final rounds. Both students were announced to be part of the top 14 competitors in their events!

 

In the end, Melanie just missed the finals and placed 7th in Program Oral Interpretation. Frank was 10th in United States Extemporaneous Speaking. But instead of celebrating these victories, the team was faced with more Covid-19 cases, meaning more students were required to isolate themselves in their hotel rooms. 


Sunny with trophyYet through all the turmoil, the team still secured high achievements. Gabrielino was recognized as a Speech National School of Excellence for the 15th straight year, placed 11th in the Speech division, and proudly finished 15th overall (out of 2500 schools) across the country. Despite everything the students were forced to overcome during the pandemic, the program continued to strive for excellence and never took the easy way out. 


For rock stars, the concert is only the beginning of their day. Afterwards, the excitement continues and life only gets more interesting. The same can be said for GabSpeech. The post tournament adventure began with figuring out how to get the team home as soon as possible. Luckily, the San Gabriel Unified School District came to the rescue. Superintendent Symonds and his leadership team met with officials to create plans which included sending another district administrator to Louisville to escort the healthy members of the team back to California. The remaining members of the team would be split into two groups, meaning the coaches would bring students back once they were released from their hotel quarantine.

“When we were talking to the musicians in front of us (on the plane ride to Louisville) about challenges in traveling,” one of the Screamin’ Eagles coaching staff stated, “Scot [Coogan] said they just go with the flow. We were in the same situation. Our head coach and all the people at the district office were busy behind the scenes making many, many different arrangements to get everyone home safely.”


The epic Screamin’ Eagles Nationals “Tour” lasted seven days past the last round of competition.  


Congratulations GabSpeech. You once again faced adversity and came out on top. Welcome home.



Melmo

Melmo Makes Semis


A big part of the Screamin’ Eagles history is nicknames.  For the past quarter century, there have been tons of names with hilarious origins: Bieber Dancing, Lotion, Little Richie, Bamer, Blok, and Klok are only some of the classics. For senior Melanie Hsiang, she earned her nickname, Melmo, from GabSpeech’s youngest fan, two-year old Dakota Lee. Her freshman year, Melanie often wore a red suit. Dakota, whose mom was an assistant coach at the time, was at tournaments and in the speech room afterschool. For children, red is one of the first colors they are able to see. As such, Dakota quickly marked Melanie as “Melmo”, after the Sesame Street character, Elmo.


She rarely sports the red suit these days, but Melanie’s successes have made her a well known competitor in the speech and debate world. This fact was no different at Nationals. She qualified for her fourth National Tournament, becoming only the 6th person in the team’s 28-year history to make it to the most prestigious tournament all four years of high school. She has competed in a staggering 45 rounds of competition in main events at Nats.  


Melmo was recognized as a National Semi-Finalist when she was a sophomore, placed 4th overall as a junior, and was 7th place in all of America her senior year. Her program oral interpretation this year focused on the weaponization of technology. “I hope that my message about the threat of technology was able to touch the hearts of those that have watched my performance. It’s unfortunately somethin

Mel Sal

g that everybody can relate to,” Melanie commented, after picking up her award in the Freedom Hall at the Kentucky Expo Center.  

 

Like Elmo, Melmo is a great role model for others. She was a senior co-captain of the Screamin’ Eagles and was named Salutatorian of her class. “It was an honor to earn these achievements, and I’m really lucky to have these opportunities,” the always-humble team leader said.  


To Melanie, you have been an incredible performer, leader and team coach to so many on our team. Everyone on Gab Speech is grateful for having a front row seat and getting to watch you perform at the highest caliber for the past four years. Thank you and congratulations on all of your successes.  We will miss you!

 

 

 

Frank

Frank Finishes Career in National Semi-Final Round

By Connie Yuan


Senior team co-captain Gabriel Frank-McPheter, nicknamed “Frank”, established one of the greatest speech and debate careers in Gabrielino’s 28-year history.  


This summer, a few days after wearing his cap and gown for graduation, Frank was back in a suit performing at the 2022 National High School Speech & Debate Championships.  He made it all the way to the National Semi-Final round, placing 10th against over 250 competitors in United States Extemporaneous Speaking. He qualified for Nationals all four years and competed in an impressive 37 rounds of competition, both online and in-person, at Nationals.


Frank with AlexYet the numbers don’t stop there. Frank is only the seventh Screamin’ Eagle to qualify for Nationals all four years. His 37 rounds  of competition at one of the most selective tournaments rank him fifth all time at Gabrielino. Most impressively, Gabriel was announced the 2022 California State Champion in US Extemporaneous Speaking.  


Last year, he performed in the final round of the Great Communicator Debate Series at the Reagan Library. This was a selective event granted to him after placing second in the nation in US Extemp! To add to his long list of achievements, Frank is the only Gabrielino student to be invited twice to the prestigious Frank at ReaganMontgomery Bell Academy National Extemp Invitational. 

 

This year, Frank became the team’s all-time leader in accumulated speech and debate points. He passed fellow alumni Alexandra Singleton who held the record since 2017. His final total of 2,926 points - almost 400 more than Alexandra - will be exceptionally difficult for anyone to ever catch.  


Although he competed in US Extemp each year at Nationals and the California State Championships, Frank has also qualified multiple times for State in Public Forum Debate.  


Fellow senior and Extemp event leader, Daniel Candia shares that “[Frank] has an exemplary worth ethic and is very engaged with the team. He’s always there to help people even if it means under-prioritizing himself. He leads by example, prioritizing the future of the team over his own success and that's what has led to a lot of his accomplishments.”


Congratulations Frank. You’ve been an incredible part of this team, league and activity for many years. You will be greatly missed, but we cannot see where you will go in the future.  

 

 

 

Daniel Grad
 
GABSpeech Rocks GABGrad
 
The Class of 2022 held their graduation ceremonies at the beautiful Santa Anita Racetrack.   It was an incredible night as 50 of the nearly 400 seniors were current, active members of the Screamin' Eagles Speech & Debate Team.  
 
GabSpeech is saying goodbye an extremely memorable class. 
 
Everyone in attendance was treated to speeches from Gabrielino and San Gabriel Unified School District Administrators.  The best speeches are usually given by the students themselves.  And this year was no different.  Halina
 
Students audition in late April to be one of the two speakers who get to represent their class at the ceremony.
 
This year, both speakers were members of the Screamin' Eagles.  
 
Senior Daniel Candia spoke about his journey to graduation as an immigrant from Colombia.  He discussed how the Class of 2022 embodied great perseverance and determination.  "It was a great honor to be able to represent my class and my fellow Eagles," Candia stated.
 
Senior Halina Kwan spoke about the ability of the students and staff to be able to pivot and adapt during the past four years.  
 
Each year at Gabrielino for the seniors was completely different.  Daniel and Halina did a fantastic job reminding everyone of their achievements and resilience and communicated a shared hope and optimism for a great future for everyone.
 
Great job Screamin' Eagles Speakers.  Congratulations to the Class of 2022.  You did it.
 
 
 

Senior Awards

GabSpeech Seniors Receive Several Honors

By Lam Chung


After two years of the Senior Awards Ceremony being a YouTube video, the Class of 2022 had their ceremony in person at Gabrielino   The seniors were rewarded for their hard work. This year, many of the Screamin’ Eagles Seniors received awards based on their academic and Speech & Debate achievements. 


During the ceremony, Co-Captains of the Screamin’ Eagles Speech & Debate team, Gabriel Frank-McPheter and Priscilla Chin were chosen to be the senior speakers at the event. Gabriel “Frank” spoke about the importance of time management and Priscilla discussed the resilience shown by the class of 2022.  Priscilla explained, “itt’s such an honor to be speaking at Senior Awards night because I can represent our Senior Class and voice all the struggles we’ve faced--not only through COVID but throughout high school.”


The Salutatorian, ranked second out of all 400+ Seniors of the Class of 2022, is one of the most prestigious titles given to a Senior. Recognized for her academic excellence and engagement within the community, Screamin’ Eagles’ Co-Captain, 4-time State and National Qualifier, Melanie Hsiang, has earned her rightful place as Gabrielino High School’s Class of 2022 Salutatorian!


11 GabSpeech members were named Academic All-Americans In order to earn this prestigious title, Seniors of the Speech & Debate team receive superior distinction from the National Speech & Debate Association, and also have a cumulative 3.7 GPA (on a 4.0 scale). The 11 Academic All-Americans are Priscilla Chin, Lauren Chiou, Vincent DeMarco, Gabriel Frank-McPheter, Kelly Hoang, Melanie Hsiang, Michelle Li, Geraldine Ly, Logan Tan, Trisha Tanaka, and Luccia Yaccoub. Recognized for their devotion and dedication to Speech and academics, these 11 seniors rightfully earned the title of Academic All-Americans!


The Screamin’ Eagles Speech & Debate Boosters awarded Gabriel and Melanie along with Daniel Candia, Melanie Hsiang and Luccia Yacoub each $250 scholarships. 


Congratulations to all the seniors who have been awarded for their hard work!

All State Team

Screamin’ Eagles Named to All-State Team

By Lam Chung


As always, the Gabrielino’s Screamin’ Eagles Speech & Debate Team continues their impeccable legacy with 20 Screamin’ Eagles members named members of the California All-State team.


Out of the 20 members of the All-State team, our 15 seniors proved their undying talent for Speech & Debate. Seniors Katie Do, Trisha Tanaka, and Victor Lucas qualified in Dramatic Interpretation (DI). Nick Cao, Joe Lee, Vincent DeMarco, and Karyme Pena were honored in Duo. Halina Kwan and Helen Benitez qualified in Original Advocacy (OA). Thien Le was distinguished in Humorous Interpretation (HI). Melanie Hsiang was honored in Program Oral Interpretation. Lauren Chiou qualified for Original Prose & Poetry (OPP). Elizabeth Chou was honored in Original Oratory (OO). And Senior Co-Captain, Luccia Yacoub qualified in International Extemporaneous Speaking (IX).


The All-State team also included both of Gabrielino Screamin’ Eagles State Champions: Gabriel Frank-McPheter in U.S Extempt, and Kate Hamamoto in Informative! Both Champions have continuously made the team proud this past year, proving the excellence of Gab’s well-renowned speech program.


Underclassmen Christopher Torres, Jojo Scannell, Alexandra Naito, and Sherry Shi were also honored in the 2022 All State Team.


Sophomore Alexandra Naito stated, “It’s a really rewarding experience and I’m really proud of everyone on the team. I want to thank the event leaders and everyone who helped me get on the All-State team. It’s impossible to do speeches on your own--speech is a communal effort.” 

 

The Screamin' Eagles were the top program in the Southern Half of California this year for the 17th time in the past 22 years.


It is clear that the effort and passion each All-State Team member has towards Speech & Debate. Congratulations Screamin’ Eagles!



 

Sherry

The Screamin’ Eagles Showcase Showed Up With Spirit

By Shirley Wang


The Screamin’ Eagles Showcase was annually performed in the Goodson Theater for 23 years in a row.  The pandemic canceled the 2020 show.  Last year, the Screamin’ Eagles took over the football field at Eagle Stadium to perform.  


This year, GabSpeech was back on the permanent stage in the theater.  The showcase, once again, gave our performers opportunities to share their talents in front of loved ones. This was some of our seniors’ last performances in their high school speech & debate journey. 

HANA

The showcase happened from 7 pm to 9 pm. There were 16 performances held over the course of 2 nights, and the excitement to watch all of them coursed throughout the campus. A large crowd of families and friends came to support our performers each day. This would be the first back-to-normal showcase for our juniors, sophomores, and freshmen, but the energy was the same as every other year.  


With its rich history and amazing performances, having the opportunity to deliver a speech during the showcase is an honor. On the first night, the lineup consisted of Alden Do with his Humorous Interpretation (HI), Melanie Hsiang with her Program Oral Interpretation (POI), Sherry Shi with her Oratorical Interpretation (OI), Gabriel Frank-McPheter with his National Extemporaneous (NX), Ashley Lau with her Informative Speakin Alden(INFO), Trisha Tanaka with her Dramatic Interpretation (DI), Hana Thai with her Original Oratory (OO), and Geraldine & Alex with their DUO. The second night had just as many, with Lauren Chiou and her Original Prose and Poetry (OPP), Christopher Torres with his POI, Halina Kwan with her Original Advocacy (OA), Luccia Yacoub with her International Extemporaneous (IX), Kate Hamamoto with her INFO, Victor Lucas with his DI, Elizabeth Chou with her OO, and Karyme & Vincent with their DUO. This year, 12 senior Eagles were given the chance to perform their speeches, alongside 3 of the team’s state-qualifying underclassmen. Well done Eagles!


After the showcase, we interviewed our Eagles about how they felt after their performance. The first night, Hana Thai stated, “I feel really good! I was really interactive [with the audience] and I’m glad they laugh[ed] at all my jokes. This is probably my last performance since I’m a senior, so I really tried to make the most of it.”

Duo

Sophomore Ashley Lau stated, “It was a completely different experience. I was so honored to be up there knowing that people were there to watch me. I’m glad that’s how my first speech season ended.” 


Congratulations to our Eagles who performed at Gab’s 24th Showcase! Also, congratulations to all the seniors on the team who are graduating this year! 

 

 

Nov Champ Team

 

Screamin’ Eagles Win JV/Novice Champs


By Katelyn Corona 


On May 6th and 7th, the non-varsity students in the Southern California Debate League were given the chance to showcase their talents at one of the last tournaments of the year: Novice-JV Champs. After spending over a year competing at different invitationals, online meets, and league tournaments, the underclassmen had the competition all to themselves. 


SCDL Novice-JV Champs is a tournament dedicated only to first and second-year speakers. Normally, the tournament is only open to first-year students. However, due to a lack of an in-person Novice Champs tournament last speech season, our second-year speakers were welcomed to enter the competition. After tirelessly working on their speeches, our Eagles were prepared to give it their greatest performances of the year. The morning of, students were handed event goodie bags and listened to their coaches and event leaders give pep talks before the first round. 


There were a total of 27 schools present for the Novice-JV Champs Speech and Novice-JV Champs Debate. On Friday, May 6th, the league held the Novice-JV Champs Debate, with the Individual Events competition following the day after on May 7th. With over 350 entries and 120 Screamin’ Eagles present, we soared over the competition. Both tournaments consisted of three guaranteed rounds and one final round. 


The day was filled with varsity coaching, giving speeches throughout the Gabrielino High School campus, and eating savory snacks. “Novice Champs was a very warm day. The temperatures were comparable to the first tournament of the year, IceBreaker. The nostalgic feeling provided a very full-circle moment to end the year,” one of our freshman novices stated. 


By the end of the tournament, Gab had accumulated a total of 49 students competing in the final round and won 10 of the 12 speech events.   Kyle Tang & Stanley Ho were the champions of DUO, Kailey Trinh won both Humor and Original Advocacy, Aaron Situ won Impromptu, Karina Vargas won Informative, Marco Cisneros-Farber won International Extemp, Violet Magallanes won Oratorical Interpretation, Ava Doron in Original Oratory, Thao Le in POI, and Sofia Villagra in United States Extemp. This was just at Novice Champs Speech! Adding to the long list of successes, Marco Cisneros-Farber & Aaron Situ won the Policy Debate, and the team of Isaac Chan & Garrison Chan won Public Forum Debate at Novice Champs Debate! Congratulations to all our champions and everyone else who participated!


A huge appreciation to our Gabrielino Screamin’ Eagles parent boosters for dedicating their Saturday to selling snacks, drinks, and food to everyone at the tournament!  Thanks to our amazing event leaders, assistant coaches, and the dedication of our novice and JV competitors, the team won the tournament for the 25th straight year. 


Keep on Soarin’ Eagles! 

For more past speech stories, click HERE

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 15 of the past 18 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

 
 
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