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2020 National Speech & Debate Spokesperson
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Screamin’ Eagles Ready For National Championships

By Jeremy Tai


Although speech this year has drastically changed during the pandemic, Gabrielino’s speech team has remained strong and resilient. Over the last year since the 2020 National Tournament was moved to an online format, the Screamin’ Eagles have been working hard. This year’s Nationals was supposed to be hosted in Des Moines, Iowa, home of the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA).  However, it will be live online due to covid-19 safety concerns.


The NSDA website proclaims, “after months of preparation, rigorous qualifying tournaments, and five days of prestigious National competition, the best of the best will be crowned champions in front of a live audience of thousands and tens of thousands more streaming the events online”.  The Screamin’ Eagles have 23 students qualified for Nationals this year.  


Starting with Duo Interpretation, we have 4 teams entering in the tournament:  first Vincent Demarco & Karyme Pena, Chris Torres & Kate Hamamoto, Logan Tan & Ivan Curiel-Mejia, and finally Geraldine Ly & Alex Lai.  Entering in Informative we have our seniors Kelly Ong and Lauren Hamamoto, with this being their final tournament, they are sure to put in their all. 


Qualifying in Program Oratorical Interp is Melanie Hsiang and two seniors, Bianca Lua and Kailey Wong.  This is Melanie’s, or Melmo’s as the team refers to her, third time qualifying for Nationals. She was automatically qualified for this year’s tournament  by virtue of advancing all the way to the National Semi-Final Round last year.   She ended up fourth place in all of America for 2020.  She states, “since we’re performing at home, the familiar environment creates a sense of security. I wouldn’t say I’m stressed yet, because I’m confident I can get my things done.  The environment is different and in person you get to meet new people, you can feed off of others energy, more energetic than me alone in my living room, I get to talk to others about where they’re from.  I would much rather have an in person tournament.”  


Entering in Dramatic Interpretation is junior Trisha Tanaka.  This is her second year to qualify for Nationals. Trisha competed in Drama the year before and she is excited to return with a new speech. 


Three Gabrielino Extempers are competing this year.  Junior Luccia Yacoub qualified in International Extemporaneous.  Junior Gabriel Frank McPheter and senior Sharon Liu qualified in United States Extemporaneous.  Each of these speakers have been competing in high level tournaments since their freshman year.  Between them, they will have been to Nationals seven times.  


GabDebate is also well represented.  Kelly Hoang & Annica Wu, Gabriel Sundaramoorthy & Daniel Candia and competing in Policy Debate.  Junior Celine Ma will be competing at Nationals for the first time in Congressional Debate and Junior Michelle Mimi Li is making her first trip as part of a multi school debate team entered in World School Debate.


The debate team has been setting all kinds of records this year. This year's debate has two National and two State qualifiers in policy debate, and two State qualifiers in Public Forum Debate. In fact! This year, Debate has doubled the number of policy teams who ever qualified to Nationals. 


With this being the last tournament the speakers have been working as hard as they can to prepare. The whole team supports each individual by watching and critiquing their speeches. The Screamin’ eagles are a team and those who are not going to Nationals will support those who are all the way. 


Nationals will be from June 13-19.  To find the livestreams go to the website


Best of luck to our Eagles, especially our seniors.

Screamin’ Eagles’ Seniors Get Graduation Awards

GabSpeech has hit some pretty incredible milestones over the years.  Wins, qualifiers, points, they all are impressive.  You can add another one to the list: over 100 Academic All-Americans.  

As part of the Class of 2021 graduation highlights, eight senior Screamin’ Eagles have been named to the elite team by the National Speech and Debate Association: Tiffany Truong, Benicio Corona De Flores, Lauren Hamamoto, Noemi Liu, Sharon Liu, Alexis Lay, Kelli Ong, and Joan Tran.

In order to qualify, seniors need to have at least a 3.70 GPA (on a 4.0 scale), have at least 750 points in speech and debate competition and have outstanding character and leadership traits.  Seniors who have a GPA between 3.50 and 3.70 (on a 4.0 scale) can also qualify if they got a 27 on on the ACT or 1300 on the new SAT.  

Noemi, who will be attending Yale University in the fall, was also named Gabirelino’s Class of 2021 Salutatorian.  Lauren, Sharon and Kelli will be competing in the 2021 National Championships this month.  Lauren, and fellow GabSpeech senior, Faith Chang were chosen to give the speeches at graduation.  

“Our students do amazing things,” a member of the Screamin’ Eagles coaching staff stated.  “They have been able to excel in competitions and in the classroom this year, despite both being virtual this year on completely different platforms.  They are students who are resilient and do an incredible job adapting to the situations they have been given.”

Congrats to all the Screamin’ Eagles Senior Class of 2021.  Best of luck to you all.



Speech & Debate Take Over Eagles Stadium

By Katelyn Corona 

For the first time in nearly a year and a half, Gabrielino hosted an in-person Speech and Debate event! The annual Screamin’ Eagles Speech Showcase! Established in 1997, the showcase highlights a few students on the team and allows them to perform their speeches in front of family, friends, teachers and more! 

Due to the unfortunate outbreak of COVID-19, the team was unable to host the 2020 showcase. For safety reasons, the 2021 event was transported from its long-lived home, the Gary E. Goodson Theater, to the Eagle Stadium.  It was the largest venue the showcase has ever been held! The turnout was excellent and the feeling inside the stadium was electric!  Finally, some things are getting back to somewhat normal. 

With its rich history and epic performances, getting to deliver a speech on the stage at the Showcase is an honor and a privilege.  Some of the most legendary Gabrielino alumni have performed at the event. This year, six special seniors were chosen to perform, Co-captain Bianca Lua, Halle Fukawa, Noemi Liu, Ethan Munsayac, Chloe Nimpoeno, and 2-time National Qualifier Sharon Liu! 

On the day of the showcase, the six performers held an Instagram Story Takeover on the team page! 

Fukawa told the 192 viewers, “I think what I am most excited about is performing in front of a crowd because I have not done that all year. I am excited, I haven't performed in front of people in a long time so I think it's going to be cool. I am excited to see other people perform because I haven't been able to do that all year. I am most excited to see Sharon’s Extemp performance!” 

Nimpoeno said, “My favorite memory from the showcase is seeing everybody in person for the first time in a while. Before the event started, we all got to hangout and catch up!” She continued by adding, “It was an amazing opportunity to be able to perform at the showcase especially after the year we’ve endured! As a senior, I found it incredibly fortunate that my last speech performance was in front of a live audience and that I had a chance to perform for my friends and family.” 

At the, end of the night, the team celebrated the success of the event and the seniors said farewell to the stage. The team is now full steam ahead toward the National Tournament in June! 

Keep a look out for what the Screamin’ Eagles do next. 



Epic State Champs Nets Epic Results

By Katelyn Corona 

Placed perfectly between the stress of Nat Quals and the end of the school year is the California State Championship Tournament hosted by the California High School Speech Association (CHSSA).  The meet normally alternates each year between the northern and southern parts of California.   This year, it was scheduled to be hosted in Los Angeles.  However, like the rest of the team’s competitions, it was hosted via the internet. 

The Screamin’ Eagles prepared all year for this tournament by working hard day in and day out. Their hard work and dedication to the team does not go unnoticed. Despite running into internet and connectivity issues, the Screamin’ Eagles did not let it phase them. 

State, in normal years, is quite a lenghty tournament, running over a span of three long days; Friday through Sunday.   This year it was an entire week!  Nine of the speech events, the memorized events, moved to a pre-recorded format.   Judges were given their virtual ballots, which listed seven links to YouTube videos of qualifying students from across the state that were uploaded in early April.  Adjudicators had four days to watch their assigned rounds and rank the speeches.   

On Friday morning, Extemporaneous and Impromptu Speaking events began.   The fourth and final round was posted just after dinner the same day.   

Saturday started the weekend and the debate rounds.   Each debate competitor also was guaranteed four preliminary rounds, which would conclude Saturday night with announcements of those who were advancing for every State event to the top 18 on Sunday.


The final day of competition featured the semifinalists in all events performing live.  20 Screamin’ Eagles advanced to the semis.  Several of the team members came to Gabrielino to perform for the first time, all year, in an actual classroom! Safely, of course. 

Senior and Co-captain Bianca Lua who delivered her speech in Mr. Carney’s history room described State to be an “unconventional, bonding, and successful” experience. She goes on to say “It is exciting and helps me to reflect on how much time and effort I’ve put in to get here. And it definitely means more to me that I got to see my fri

Awards 2

end's place as well.” 

Late Sunday afternoon, the top seven were announced for each event.  Bianca and seven of her teammates made 

the State Final Round.   Junior Trisha Tanaka, who also performed for the first time all year outside of her house stayed on campus to watch finals to support her fellow Screamin’ Eagles.  “I watched Bianca perform in the finals,” the junior event leader said. “ It was the first time I’ve watched someone perform in person in over a year.  It was really cool.”

After a whole week of watching speeches, the team gathered virtually to wait for the results!  Sofia Chavez was 6th place in Humorous Interpretation (HI), Sharon Liu was 5th place in United States Extemporaneous (USX), Bianca was 4th place in Program Oral Interpretation (POI) and the Duo Interpretation Team (DUO) of Karyme Pena & Vincent Demarco placed 3rd.  

NoemiThe Screamin’ Eagle had three 2nd place finishes: Melanie Hsiang in POI, Gabriel Frank-McPheter in USX and Noemi Liu in HI.  

Karyme and Vincent  expressed their emotions toward the tournament, "placing at state honestly means that the endless hours of work we put in this year really did pay off in the best way possible. Placing at state also gave us an opportunity to really reflect on our experiences in speech.  We remember being freshmen and hoping one day we would at least qualify to state and the fact that as a junior we hold the title of third in state is just absolutely mind boggling." 

Overall, the team placed fourth in the entire state of California, two points away from third.  It was the Screamin’ Eagles best finish since getting second in 2017.  More importantly, Gabrielino regained its title of top program in the entire southern half of California.   Congratulations to all those that competed, keep up the good work! Stay tuned to hear what the Screamin’ Eagles do next! 


Nat Quals Eagle

Screamin’ Eagles Make History at Nat Quals

By Katelyn Corona 


A year ago, the world was in a very chaotic place. Covid-19 was slowly taking over the nation, schools began shutting down, and we were unsure of what the world was becoming. This year, it is much different than anyone could imagine!

It has been almost a complete year of competing in virtual  tournaments, and it has been a crazy but fun opportunity for the Screamin’ Eagles. Because of online meets, the team has been able to compete in tournaments that would otherwise be impossible to attend given their location. For example, students previously would have had to travel by plane to compete at the Harvard and Yale Invitationals on the east coast, but because they were hosted online, Gabrielino students were able to compete in the event for the first time.

Of course, there were many ups and downs to competing web-based, but that did not keep the Screamin’ Eagles from soaring. Prior to Nat Quals, the team competed at several league meets, invitationals and at The State Qualifying Tournament. With all of that preparation, it set the stage for success for the 2021 East Los Angeles County / Orange County District National Qualifying Tournament.

The team has already qualified four students for Nationals at the Debate Quals in February.  The hope was to give more team members a chance to compete against the best of the best in America this summer.  After three preliminary rounds, a semi-final round and a very intense final round for each of the eight different speech events, the top four students were named National Qualifiers.  The Screamin’ Eagles added 16 more students to the “2021 Nats Team”.   

Five of the wonderful qualifiers are seniors! “It’s honestly such a symbol of hard work over a long period of time paying off. I’m excited to see great speeches and Zoom with my teammates to see results!said Co-Captain Bianca Lua.  She has qualified for the tournament twice before, first in 2019 for Duo Interpretation (DUO) and again in 2020 for Program Oral Interpretation (POI).  The other qualifying seniors are: Sharon Liu in United States Extemp (USX), Kelli Ong and Lauren Hamamoto in Informative, and Kailey Wong in POI. 

Gabrielino made history at the tournament.  For the first time ever for this particular tournament, all four entries qualifying for Nationals came from one school.  The Screamin’ Eagles took the top four spots in Duo Interpretation.  “A school can only enter a total of four entries in each event,” one of the coaches commented.  “So to have those four entities place in the top four spots, that is really remarkable.”

 “I’m super excited to just see other speeches besides the one from Gabrielino. It’s like everything will be a whole new world because I have no clue what to expect! I’m also so excited to share a message that is really impactful and significant to me.said Karyme Pena, who was one of the qualifiers in Duo. Karyme will be competing at Nationals with her partner, Vincent DeMarco. The other three Duo teams are Logan Tan & Ivan Curiel, Alex Lai & Geraldine Ly, and Kate Hamamoto & Chris Torres.  All will be performing at the National Tournament in June! 


The other qualifiers from the speech quals are Gabriel Frank-McPheter in USX, Luccia Yacoub in International Extemp, and Trisha Tanaka in Drama.   When you add in the four previously qualified debaters and Melanie Hsiang, who automatically qualified for this year’s championships by placing fourth overall in America at the 2020 Nationals, the team jumps to 21.

On top of all the students qualifying, the Screamin’ Eagles won the tournament for the 16th time.  

The team is now preparing for the State Championship at the end of April. Congratulations to all the Screamin’ Eagles for your wonderful work this year! Stay tuned to hear what they do next! 

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Champions - 24 Years In A Row

By Katelyn Corona 

Similar to every other tournament this year, the Southern California Debate League’s State Qualifying Tournament was held online. Traditionally, the meet is held at Cal State Long Beach and most recently, East Los Angeles Community College. 

Competing online is both a blessing and a curse. Rather than running around a college campus to find rooms and round postings, now students worry about camera angles, lighting, internet connectivity, etc. Despite having to face uncontrollable factors like wifi signals and internet waves, the Screamin’ Eagles continued to soar. 

The first rounds of competition were posted online at 7:30 in the morning.  Students were guaranteed three preliminary rounds of competition.  By 3pm, each of the 12 speech events had been narrowed down to the top 14 competitors.   Two hours later, the final seven were announced. 

During the tournament, the students communicated with each other via Facetime, Zoom, etc. Junior, Hana Thai interacted with her peers by joining, “the team Zoom in between [her] rounds and participated in the activities and games.” During the  Zoom, students were able to play games with each other and participate in fun activities! The tournament Zoom was described as “vibey, chaotic, and like a family.” Another student described it to be, “exciting, emotional, and fun!” 

At the end of the tournament, the Screamin’ Eagles got to celebrate their success of winning The Southern California Debate League Championship for the 24th year in a row! Congratulations to Noemi Liu and Sophia Chavez in Humor, Josephine Chia, Halle Fukawa and Eric Zhang in Oratorical, Kristen Song and Helen Benitez in Advocacy, Melanie Hsiang, Trisha Tanaka, Bianca Lua, and Chloe Nimpoeno in Program Oral Interp, Annica Wu and Kelly Ong in Expository, Daniel Candia and Luccia Yacoub in International Extemp, Sharon Liu and Gabriel Frank-McPheter in United States Extemp, Nick Cao, Tiffany Truong and Ethan Munsayac in Original Prose & Poetry, Karyme Pena, Vincent Demarco, Chris Torres, Kate Hamamoto, Sara Le, Eunice Kay, Alex Lai, Geraldine Ly, Bella Richardson, and Aidan Scannell in Duo interpretation.  Annica and Daniel also qualified in Policy Debate with their partners, Kelly Hoang and Gabriel Sundarmoorthy.  They all have qualified for the 2021 State Championships.  

Qualifying for the State Championships can be stressful and exhilarating all at the same time. After the Screamin’ Eagles finished their performances, the team came together in a Zoom.  There, the coaches announced all the qualifiers in real time.  

The “awards” portion of the team Zoom was then followed by “Senior Speeches - Zoom Edition.” Senior Speeches has been a long running tradition where after State Quals the seniors give their fare-well speeches to the team. It is obviously very emotional and heart-warming for everyone involved and allows for the seniors to pass the torch to the underclassmen. Despite it being online, it was still a great bonding experience for the students and replicated a feeling of normalcy that has been taken away due to COVID-19.  “It,” one of the assistant coaches commented.  “It was just as intense and special as every other year.  It was heartwarming to be a part of something that had real emotion and feeling.  This team is amazing.”

Last year, State was cancelled due to the lack of time needed to move from an in person to online tournament.  “We got the call on Wednesday, March 11th (2020) that State was cancelled,” one member of the coaching staff recalled.  “There was no way they could find, learn, test and teach a new online platform in the five weeks before the tournament.”  

This year, the students and league are fully prepared to compete online! Junior, Kristin Song, is preparing to compete at the virtual 2021 State Championships by, “Making some changes to my script and working on delivery with Water” Senior, Tiffany Troung described her emotions toward qualifying for state by saying, “Qualifying for state, I know that I really have to get the gears in motion since this is my last tournament. No more invitationals, no Nationals because OPP isn't a National event. Of course, I'm going to work hard to convey the message I want to bring to the table on the weekend of State.”

The team now turns their attention to the National Qualifying Tournament! Good luck and once again, congratulations to everyone that competed at State Quals.

Stay tuned to hear what the Screamin’ Eagles will do next! 

State Auto QUalifiers

GabSpeech Gets 6 Auto-Qualed To State

By Alyssa Macias & Tyler Cheng

The time of the year the Screamin' Eagles Speech and Debate team has been waiting for has finally arrived! The big state qualifying tournament. Every year, a state tournament is held at different places across the map where the best of the best speakers compete with each other. There are several different events students may perform in including duo interpretation, humorous interpretation, dramatic interpretation, extemporaneous speaking, expository, informative, original oratory, and program oral interpretation. All school year, students have been working hard in their events to be able to compete at the California State Championships.

But first, students have to qualify.  In order to get to “State”, students can place in the top five at the Southern California Debate League’s (SCDL) State Qualifying Tournament or by getting two of, what the league calls, “legs”. To gain a “leg” you must place first or second at the SCDL’s Fall and Spring Varsity Tournaments. 

Although making State is very difficult, six Screamin’ Eagles have already received the legs and qualified for the 2021 State Championships before the qualifying tournament even began!  Two of our junior Screamin’ Eagles, Luccia Yacoub and Gabriel Frank-McPheter, made it in Extemporaneous Speaking, or “Extemp”. In extemp you must inform the audience of current events, entertain them, and persuade them to take a specific stance on the issues surrounding the topic. These two individuals have done exactly that. 


Despite the obstacles thrown in the way this year, Gabriel and Luccia were able to persevere through this situation and make the most out of it. Gabriel has used the online tournaments to his advantage and decided to compete at the Stanford and Harvard University Invitational Tournaments. Both tournaments Gabriel would normally not attend due to travel costs. Luccia claims, “It is really difficult to find motivation during these times, however, it is not impossible.”  What keeps her motivated is thinking about the “individuals across the world who do not have the platform, ability, or even right as individuals to speak.” To future Screamin’ Eagles, Gabriel wants to encourage you to “Stick through it, try new events, go to practice, and you will find your place in the community.” As for Luccia, she advises, “Speech is going to change your life” and “Don’t be afraid to give your audience a piece of who you are.” 


Alongside Gabriel and Luccia, Seniors Halle Fukawa, Bianca Lua, and Juniors Vincent Demarco and Karyme Pena also auto-qualified for the 2021 State Championships by winning two “legs”. Their hard word, dedication, and perseverance have paid off! Senior Halle Fukawa qualified in Oratorical Interpretation, an event where a student takes a speech written and given by someone and interprets it as their own. Although it has been a remarkably tough year, Halle credits the team's environment for how she has qualified for the tournament. Halle reminisces, “I think this year being virtual did make things hard for me since I couldn't be around my team. The environment of the team is such a big factor in my motivation that it was a little difficult for me to always be working. Seeing these other kids working so hard and being so determined to get better made me want to get better, too, and it made me work hard to be someone they can hopefully look up to.” Because her teammates worked exceptionally hard during these hard times, Halle was motivated enough to work just as hard and was able to qualify to state. The team certainly looks up to you, Halle. Keep it up! 

Another incredible senior to qualify for the 2021 state tournament is Bianca Lua. Because of her dedication and incredible resolve, Bianca was able to qualify in Program Oral Interpretation, an event where the speaker chooses, prose, poetry, drama, and combines them under a common theme. Program Oral Interpretation is an incredibly difficult and competitive event. Being able to auto qualify in POI shows tremendous dedication and skill. Team Co-Captain Bianca notes, “My favorite aspect of tournaments is that despite the competitive and, at times, brutal nature of the activity, Gabrielino's community makes the experience fun and supports the success of growth.” The team is fortunate to have such a steadfast leader in Bianca and we are so proud of her commitment to the team. Way to go, Bianca!                 

Finally, juniors Vincent Demarco and Karyme Pena were the last to auto qualify for the 2021 State Championships. Both juniors qualified in Duo Interpretation, an event where two speakers perform the same script. While Duo may be double the fun, but it also takes double the work. This year, Duo had to explore new and creative ways to deliver their speech through Zoom! The time and effort it takes to create a stellar duo is not for the faint of heart! Karyme comments, “The virtual setting has greatly impacted speech for me in multiple ways but I think the biggest thing has been finding time to actually practice my speech. Since we don't have speech practices as often as we used to and we don't have speech every day, I don't have a designated time where I can spend memorizing or bouncing ideas off my friends.” Karyme’s partener Vincent Demarco also comments on virtual learning, “It has made it harder. Having to learn a new way of performance and having to bring the energy while you're not in that speech atmosphere that tournaments and the speech room bring has definitely been harder.” That being said, virtual learning did not stop their  commitment. Their persistence and tenacity have led them both to a spot at the 2021 State Championships! 

It is easy to give up when challenges present themselves.  These six Screamin’ Eagles, took on the tough challenges all year long and have been rewarded with spots in the 2021 California State Speech & Debate Championships next month.  The team is proud of all of you!

We are so excited to see all our auto qualifiers compete at State! They have given speech everything they possibly could and it has definitely paid off for them. We want to wish them the best of luck and we know they will do absolutely amazing. Congratulations and we cannot wait to see what they can do the rest of this year!!

Debate Group


Four Qualify At Nat Quals Debate

Just after the Chinese calendar changed to the Year of Rat last January and before the world came to a screeching halt, The Screamin’ Eagles qualified their first ever all female Policy Debate team for the National Championships.   In the 27 year history of Gabrielino Speech and Debate, nearly 300 GHS students have qualified for Nationals.  Four of those students have qualified in Policy Debate.   Four.

12 months later, the Screamin’ Eagles made history in Policy Debate again.  This year, in one tournament, they doubled their historical numbers at the 2021 East Los Angeles / Orange County District of the National Speech & Debate Association National Qualifying Debate Tournament.  That’s a lot of words for a tournament that only gets to send a select few students to the National Championships. 

When Senior Co-Captain Annica Wu and her partner, junior, Kelly Hoang were announced as National Qualifiers, they became only the second all female policy team to make Nationals.  Junior Daniel Candia and his partner, sophomore Gabriel “Sunny D” Sundaramoorthy were also announced.  They became the seventh and eighth students to qualify in Policy Debate.

“You mean we’ve never qualified two teams in the same year,” Sundaramoorthy asked.  “We’ve only qualed two teams ever...ever,” his partner, Candia pointed out.  The two had just spent the last nine hours debating the intricacies of criminal justice reform in the United States, yet still helping each other figure out problems.

Junior Kelly Hoang commented, “qualifying for Nationals in debate was surprising. At first, I was unsure if it was actually real because Tabroom has made errors in the past; however, I guess they were right. I am excited for this experience to debate at a national level”

All four students will be competing this June in the National Championships, which will once again be online.  And after the great success of the 2020 Online Nationals, the 2021 Nats is on track to be the largest academic competition to ever take place in the world.

In the meantime, the four qualifiers will have a week to prepare for their next debates at the Southern California Debate League’s State Qualifying Tournament this coming weekend.

Way to go Screamin Eagles.  Good luck at State Quals

Spring Novice Graphic

Spring Novice Fits for GabSpeech

By Katelyn Corona

Settled perfectly in-between Spring Varsity and the State Qualifying tournament is the annual Southern California Debate League’s Spring Novice Tournament.  The meet is normally held at Millikan High School in Long Beach, California.  But this year, it was held online due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

Spring Novice is an easy and fun tournament that allows the underclassmen to perform their speeches and for the upperclassmen to watch and judge the performances of their younger peers. 

This tournament goes by super quick with only 5 to 6 people in a room, three preliminary rounds, and no finals. Normally, in between rounds, the competitors and judges line-up to get their Chanos taco plate, but this year, they missed out on that tradition. 

Prior to the tournament, the beginning speech class and Junior Varsities got help from the advanced speech class to improve their performances. They talked about things like volume, tone, pacing, lighting, and so much more! The after-school practices are an amazing way the team has learned to bond with each other via distance learning. 

The practice and mentoring visibly paid off! With over 60 Gabrielino Screamin’ Eagles in attendance, 20 placed in the top 2 of their events! But tournaments aren't always about winning or earning trophies, they're about having fun and making memories with your teammates. Which is why the students held multiple celebratory facetime and Zoom calls after Spring Novice to commemorate all of their hard work and preparation! 

Despite not being able to experience the fun of the hectic bus rides, noisiness of the Millikan High school lunchroom, or the divine flavors of Chanos Mexican Food, the team still had a blast! 

The team now turns their heads to State Quals, which is taking place this weekend February 26th to February 27th. The adrenaline and excitement is definitely on the rise, but there is no challenge too big for the Screamin’ Eagles! 

Stay tuned to hear what the Screamin’ Eagles do next! 

Stanford Sequel More Intense Than Original

2010, A Stanford Odyssey: it was the one year The Screamin’ Eagles ventured up to Palo Alto to participate in the Stanford University National Invitational Speech & Debate Tournament.   All speech rounds took place in rooms at a very large hotel while the debate rounds were held on the campus of Stanford.   The tournament was too large to host at one location.   It was also a logistical nightmare for the team to keep track of a large number of students at two different locations, almost 45 minutes apart.  

So it was a one and done trip for GabSpeech and Stanford.

Until everything went virtual.  

This year, the year of a lot of firsts, provided a second opportunity for Gabrielino students to participate in Stanford’s large and respected tournament.  26 team members took advantage of the opportunity to compete against almost 3,000 other students from over 350 schools representing 40 different states.  There weren’t that many schools when the Screamin’ Eagles took their charter bus to Stanford a decade ago.  There are some benefits to having speech and debate online.  

After four speech rounds and six debate rounds all day on Saturday and half of Sunday, a full two thirds of the team made it to the quarter final rounds.  Junior Trisha Tanaka, who advanced in both of her events, commented, “It was very exciting getting so far at a big tournament like Stanford! I had a lot of fun performing at semis but was a little nervous for my rounds. I had a great time and I'm so glad I got to perform for another round.”

As the sun began to set on San Gabriel on Sunday afternoon, Stanford announced the final rounds. 14 Screamin’ Eagles were listed among the top six of their events.  Junior Vincent De Marco, who was in the final round of both Duo and Humorous Interpretation commented, “My lighting and set up didn't change very much throughout the day. When the sun was shining through my window in the morning I got to use natural light. As the day progressed, I had to close the window and turn on the lights in the room.” Vincent and his Duo partner, junior Karyme Pena, won the event.  Fellow junior, Luccia Yacoub, also was the champion of her event, International Extemporaneous. 

Junior Alden Do, finalist and 5th place performer in Oratorical Interpretation commented, "Being in the Final rounds at Stanford was evidence of going through trials and tribulations to get to where I am right now. It reflected on how it's got to do everything with effort. Ray Lewis (the person who wrote the speech Alden is performing this year) has taught me that I should prepare so that no one can replace my mind, my heart, my passion, and my persistence to work hard."

There wasn’t a seven hour bus ride home after the awards and there were no late night stops at rest areas along Interstate.  The competition was even more intense than it was the first and only time Gabrielino competed in the tournament, however; the results were once again, incredibleYet again, GabSpeech has demonstrated a pandemic cannot stop their pursuit of excellence.

Way to go Screamin’ Eagles.  


Spring Var

GabSpeech Gets Early State Qualifiers

By Katelyn Corona

The 2020-2021 season has been non-stop! Just a few months ago, the Screamin’ Eagles competed at Fall Varsity- the first Southern California Debate League (SCDL) varsity speech tournament of the season.  On January 30th, the team performed at the league’s second varsity speech tournament, Spring Varsity. To prepare for meet, the team worked with their teammates and coaches.  They gave each other constructive criticism and discussed ideas to improve their performances. The team also spent some time reminiscing about the pre-covid world.


Some Eagles expressed that online tournaments lacked most of the things that made competitions fun. Instead of hanging out with their friends and joking around in-between rounds, they now interact with each other via facetime or Zoom. Others really miss the Chanos Mexican Restaurant catering the league tournaments and have been craving their tacos, churros and horchata! The feeling of normalcy has been taken away from the team but they continue to find ways to persevere. 

For example, the Gabrielino Screamin’ Eagles won Spring Varsity or the 21st year in a row,  meaning the team had more points and students in the final rounds than the other 20 schools that competed. Gabrielino has not lost a league speech tournament in over 20 years! This year, over 35 Screamin’ Eagles competed in the final round and placed in their event. 

At both Spring Varsity and Fall Varsity students had the opportunity to earn “legs” to the State Championships. Legs can be earned by placing 1st or 2nd in the same event at both tournaments. Congrats to Vincent Demarco and Karyme Pena in DUO , Luccia Yacoub in  International Extemporaneous, Gabriel Frank Mc-Pheter in National Extemporaneous,, Halle Fukawa in Oral Interpretation, and, Bianca Lua in Program Oral Interpretation for auto-qualifying for the California State Tournament! Auto Qualifying is not easy! It means performing in three preliminary rounds and one final round against some of the toughest performers in the league. As of right now, Gabrielino has a total of six students attending the State Championships. More students can attend State by qualifying through the SCDL State Qualifying Tournament at the end of February. .

Now that Spring Varsity is over, the rest of the team is preparing for the upcoming Spring Novice and National Qualifying Debate State Tournaments, which, of course,  are hosted online. 

Congratulations and good job to everyone that performed at Spring Varsity, and good luck to those competing at the upcoming tournaments.

Stay tuned for more articles on what the Screamin’ Eagles do next! 


Logan's MLK Online

By Katelyn Corona

For the past 30 years, James Logan High School has held the Martin Luther King Jr. Invitational in honor of one of the most famous and influential people in history. To celebrate his legacy, this year,  94 schools from 14 states competed in his honor.

Over 1300 students from 94 schools across the nation competed at the virtual tournament. The MLK Jr Invitational is normally held in Northern California but due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was held online.  


The Screamin' Eagles, currently ranked as the 10th largest team in the nation, had a total of 42 entries competing at the Invitational. The tournaments ran smoothly with four preliminary rounds before each of the events were narrowed to the top 24 quarter-finalists.   29 of Gabrielino’s 38 entries advanced to Quarters and 15 competed in the Semi-Final round.  Finalists are the top 7 competitors in each event, 8 Screamin' Eagles performed in the Final Round. 


Junior Melanie “Melmo” Hsiang recalled the Final Round to be much more competitive than league tournaments. She also said there was a lack of adrenaline rush compared to in-person invitationals. Many students lean on the energy of competitors and judges while performing, but this year performers learned to rely on tiny boxes on their computer screens. The Final Round performances were live streamed on Youtube, and we're described to be fun and refreshing. Previous online tournaments did not allow spectators during Semi and Final Rounds, but there was an exception for the MLK Jr Invitational. Students said that the live stream brought a sense of normalcy back to online tournaments. 


Normalcy is something the team tries to incorporate into every online tournament. They do this by talking in-between rounds in the Squad Room and on Facetime. But for Logan 2021, there was a serious lack of artificial normalcy. Students were overwhelmed with the emotions of missing such a fun in-person tournament. Many said they missed the bus rides, pit stop to Casa de Fruta, and the tradition to watch a scary movie on the way back. Others missed the excitement of rooming with their best friends in the hotel. In all, the team missed everything from the smell of the bus to the fluffiness of the hotel pillows to the cold crisp air of Northern California - but all this did not stop the Screamin' Eagles from succeeding. 


The team did exceptionally well, with 8 students in the Final round. Congratulations to Kelly Ong for 3rd in Informative,  Luccia Yacoub for 4th in Informative and 6th in U.S Extemp, Gabriel Frank McPheter for  3rd in U.S. Extemp, Vincent Demarco & Karyme Peña for 2nd in DUO,  Bianca Lua for  2nd in POI, Melanie Hsiang for 4th in POI  and last but certainly not least, Megan Chan for 1st in Oratory! As the champion of Oratory, Megan received a $100 cash prize and had the opportunity to donate an additional hundred dollars to a charity of her choice! 


Congrats to all that competed !! 


The team now shifts their attention to continuing to improve their performances in class and after-school practices! Stay tuned to hear all about what the Screamin' Eagles do next! 


Super Screamin Eagle Parents: Mimi’ s Mom

By Luccia Yacoub


While the times have been tough, our Screamin' Eagles have found a light in a dark place. This week, as we continue on this journey of virtual speech and debate, we’re spotlighting some of our amazing Screamin' Eagles Parents.

The people we often forget have to carry perhaps one of the largest burdens of online learning, the parents. Especially for Screamin’ Eagle parents, this burden is on a whole other level. Not only do they have to deal with crazy kids waking up at 6 AM to do their hair, makeup, and make some **EXTREMELY** loud noises, but they have the parental responsibility of making sure the Screamin’ Eagles stay motivated. 

For Mimi’s mom (as many on the team call her), her experience comes from both in-person and online tournaments. “The on-campus tournaments are better for the students to have a real audience and receive non-verbal body language and facial expressions feedback during the delivery of their speech.  For online tournaments, technology can become a disadvantage for students who do not have the necessary set up or network bandwidth” she stated. Her experience has helped her realize the courage and motivation it takes for students to be public speaking. Lulu2

In fact, she even provides us with some statistics, “According to, 77% of the population has some level of anxiety when it comes to public speaking.” She continues, “I am astounded by how many students have well written original speeches and how well they deliver their speeches.”  It is exactly this sentiment that has helped the Screamin’ Eagles stay strong, even in the midst of a pandemic. Even though super parents like Mimi’s mom have sacrificed a lot to help their students, from turning their living rooms into a stage to keeping it so silent in the house, you can hear a pin drop, their efforts and accommodations are the reason for Screamin’ Eagles’ success. 

It is especially rewarding for parents as well, as Mimi’s mom puts it “ is a humbling experience for me to see how brave and how well the students do in delivering their speeches.  The students who are in speech and debate have gained an invaluable tool for the rest of their lives.”

Thank you for all support and dedication to the Screamin' Eagles, Mimi’s Mom. We love you!

lucciaphotos by Luccia Yacoub

Mrs. BluaSuper Screamin Eagle Parents: Mrs. Lua

By Luccia Yacoub

While the times have been tough, our Screamin' Eagles have found a light in a dark place. This week, as we continue on this journey of virtual speech and debate, we’re spotlighting some of our amazing Screamin' Eagles Parents.

Performing online is definitely… something, but judging speech tournaments online is a whole different world, to say the least. Mrs. Lua tells us about her experience judging at two of our online tournaments. “I miss the exciting atmosphere of judging in-person; it's really magical. One positive difference was being able to fill out digital ballots and submitting the sheet with a press of a button. It was very clean and simple.” Clearly, staying positive runs in the Lua family.

And while it is easier to submit a ballot through the touch of a button, trying to accommodate Screamin' Eagles performing at home can be QUITE the challenge. “As a family, we have totally surrendered our dining room on tournament weekends. We even made signs for the doors that read, ‘Quiet, please. Tournament in session.’ ” So luckily for her daughter, and team Co-Captain, Bianca “Blua”, her fear of someone walking in on her in the middle of her performance is put at ease.

Mrs. Blua 2

But still, the struggle is VERY real, especially for students such as Bianca, who compete in duo interpretation. “ takes much more time and effort to record a final piece. Also, while the online platform affords my student the opportunity to participate in out-of-state tournaments (yay!), it's tough to compete with teams whose state allows them to be in the same room (boo!).” 

Persistence and motivation, however, win over difficulties for Mrs. Lua. “I try to provide positive feedback and encourage her when I see her ingenuity and ability to pivot. I’m grateful because now I get to see & hear my student perform.”

Thank you for all support and dedication to the Screamin' Eagles, Mrs. Lua. We love you!

photos by Luccia Yacoub


Mrs. Yacoub1

Super Screamin' Eagle Parents: Mrs. Yacoub

By Luccia Yacoub


While the times have been tough, our Screamin' Eagles have found a light in a dark place. This week, as we continue on this journey of virtual speech and debate, we’re spotlighting some of our amazing Screamin' Eagles Parents.

Whether it’s bringing Cheese rolls from Porto’s and Krispy Kreme donuts to feed the entire team, driving the debaters to and from tournaments, or judging extra rounds at 10 PM on a Saturday, we know that Mrs. Yacoub, or as the debaters call her “Mama Yacoub” is always there for the team. Even in a virtual setting, this has not changed one bit… well except for the Porto’s and Krispy Kreme donuts. 

For Mama Yacoub, her experience goes way back. “I’ve been judging tournaments for years now, starting with elementary, then middle school, and now the best-- high school. The speech and debate community is something that has grown on my family.” Despite being a virtual platform, Mrs. Yacoub is very grateful for the technology we have today that allows students to continue their once in-person activities. “Had a pandemic hit, when I was my daughter’s age, we would not have been able to interact in the way we do today, even if it's through a camera” she stated.

Like every super Screamin Eagle parent, Mrs. Yacoub has had to make a lot of sacrifices. “Our home is small and VERY echoey” she stated, “I have to completely shut the door and be as quiet as possible when I judge, so that the sound does not reach the living room where Luccia is performing.” To top that off, she tells about how she had to transform her tiny living room into a complete performance area.

Mrs. Yacoub

Mrs. Yacoub talks about students who are double entered, “In a real tournament, double entries would have to run across campuses, but online they simply join a different zoom room. So there definitely is a benefit.”  With that being said however, she added, “I’ve noticed that a lot of students from various tournaments and schools have lost a lot of motivation to perform. They’re not as serious about performing or delivering, just about getting it done.” She added, “It’s sad to see, but then again we’re so fortunate for the Screamin Eagle team that does everything in its ability to encourage its members.”  

With the addition of zoom squad rooms before tournaments and in between rounds, Mrs. Yacoub gets a little taste from the past. “Seeing the team together, even if it’s on zoom, really makes me so joyful because it shows just how strong the team is, and how even in the midst of distress they are willing to fight even the toughest of battles.”

Thank you for all support and dedication to the Screamin' Eagles, Mama Yacoub. We love you!


photos by Luccia Yacoub


Screamin’ Eagle Extemper Gets “THE Invite”

By Katelyn Corona and Luccia Yacoub


The Montgomery Bell Academy (MBA) Extemporaneous Speaking Round Robin is an annual prestigious tournament.  Only 16 students from across the nation get invited each year. Invitations are decided by national placings over a duration of two years. The last time Gabrielino received an invitation was to Kevin Ye in 2011. Kevin placed fourth at the M.B.A. Round Robin. The same year, he placed 2nd at the California State Tournament and 2nd at the National Championships. 


This year, Gabrielino student Gabriel Frank McPheter was invited to the MBA Round Robin!  Gabriel's invitation was very well-deserved.  He has qualified and competed at the State and National Championships during his first two years on the team. Gabriel’s junior year has been highlighted by a trio of top 6 finishes in Extemp at the Yale University, Glenbrooks (high schools in the suburbs of Chicago, IL) and James Logan High School National Invitational Tournaments.  Gabe, or Frank McFrank as the team affectionately calls him, has already qualified for the Tournament of Champions in both Extemporaneous Speaking and Original Oratory.


Gabriel's reaction to his invitation was  "...initially shock. I was pretty surprised, but after it sunk in, my reaction was feeling very honored and excited to have the opportunity".  The Screamin’ Eagles coaching staff was honored, but kind of expected it.  “As soon as Frank made it to the final round of the Glenbrooks,” a coach said, “someone posted in our group chat, ‘when’s the invite from the round robin coming?’  You hope the invite is coming, you know how hard he works and how good he is, but it is very exclusive company so you never know, there are so many incredible speakers across the country.  It was really cool he got the invite and got to compete against the very best.”


Extemporaneous Speaking is an event where competitors are given three questions about current event topics.  Students choose one and have thirty minutes to put together a seven minute speech answering the question.  The current discombobulated world of politics, locally, nationally and globally, has given birth to a wave of very interesting questions. 



To practice for the tournament Gabriel, "...spent a few hours each day before the tournament for two weeks just preparing for the competition. I wrote attention-getters for every topic area, recorded myself giving more speeches than I think I have the whole rest of the year in total, and did a lot more research and reading on topics I wasn't as familiar with." 


Gabriel keeps motivated because he knows the opportunities he has. “My speech role models have helped me stay motivated… I look up to people like Starlee, Tim Chung, Kevin Ye, and of course EChen. The desire to live up to their legacy, not let their efforts in coaching and assistance go to waste, and to make them proud has helped me stay motivated.” 



While competing alongside some of the most talented students in Extemp in all of America, Gabriel took this as an opportunity to “define terms and the burden of proof in my introduction, I learned to ask more targeted questions with a setup and final blow on cross-examination, and I learned to always crystallize back to not just the question, but the point's claim and how it meets the burden of proof of the question at the end of each point. Of course, I learned a lot more than just those three things, but in Extemp fashion, I'll only give you the three key points of analysis to keep it simple."


This year’s MBA Round Robin was online.  Virtual tournaments, while not as social and interactive as in-person meets, do allow for a more inclusive field of competitors.  Usually limited to families with the means to afford weekly trips across the country in airports and hotels.  Gabriel and the rest of the Screamin’ Eagles have had great opportunities because of online competitions. “I’ve seen literally the best of the best extempers in the nation,” Gabriel notes.  “And from that I’ve learned way more than you could type in an article… I’ve learned how to efficiently use the online platform for professional communication.”


Gabriel notes, “Online speech loses the fun of people in person, but gains the fulfillment of new people to perceive. Learning by listening is perhaps the only thing more powerful than learning by doing.”

The MBA Round Robin provides great memories for those individuals accepting of the exclusive invitation.  Gabriel's favorite memory was, "my sixth round. I gave what I felt was a very good speech by my standards, and it held up well on cross-examination, so I was feeling quite proud of myself...I suppose it's such a good memory because it really encapsulated how much I still have to learn and improve, even at my best." 


The Screamin' Eagles and all of the San Gabriel Unified School District is extremely proud of the success that Gabriel has achieved during his time at Gabrielino High School! Congratulations on all of your accomplishments, we can't wait to see what you do next !! 


 lucciaPhotos by Luccia Yacoub





Blown Away by Blua

By Luccia Yacoub


While the times have been tough, our Screamin' Eagles have found a light in a dark place. As we continue on this journey of virtual speech and debate, we’re spotlighting some of our Screamin' Eagles this week

Whether it’s her POI (Programmed Oral Interp) her duo, or on the soccer field, you are bound to be completely and utterly blown away by our Screamin Eagles Co-Captain, the one and only Bianca “Blua” Lua. Not only is she an amazing performer, but you are sure to be impressed by her passion, her kindness, and of course her magenta suit. 

Blua has competed in over a dozen tournaments so far this year.  She’s become a pro at performing for the camera.  The virtual setting does come with its setbacks. For starters “The biggest struggle with online speech as a captain is trying to connect with the entirety of the team and motivate them and inspire them like I desire to do so. I have to surrender the fact that I probably will never see all of their faces or get to see their speeches. It’s been difficult to support the team like I want to.”

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Performing online has been quite the challenge, but Blua makes it work, though it does take a lot more grind. “The ability to touch people’s hearts even through a screen is powerful and requires more of a genuine performance and passion as opposed to the flashiness of in person.” She also tells us about some of her fears “...a family member accidentally distracting me and my internet acting up mid-performance.”

On the bright side, she tells how she gets to perform in her socks! She talks about how luckily she has a supporting team to keep her as hyped and as motivated as possible. “I see how hard my peers work and they unknowingly push me to go even harder. My coaches encourage me by simply treating this year like any other and expecting more from me as a performer and as a leader.” 

For Blua, the things she misses the most include late night speech practices with stale tortilla chips, walking into the speech room after having a hard class, and above all seeing her peers grow as speakers and individuals. Despite the odds, Blua and the Screamin' Eagles have continued their pursuit of excellence. “The more I focus on how much I love the speech and all the people who have helped me get to where I am today, the more I get and stay excited about speech.”


lucciaPhotos by Luccia Yacoub


Annica Misses Her Home Away from Home

By Luccia Yacoub


While the times have been tough, our Screamin' Eagles have found a light in a dark place. As we continue on this journey of virtual speech and debate, we’re spotlighting some of our Screamin' Eagles this weeknts.

Whether it’s working on a debate case, making new expos boards, or performing her Original Oratory, there’s one thing about Annica that you can’t deny; she’s making the most of her senior speech year. Our last Screamin Eagle co-captain, Annica Wu, has been helping debaters work on their cases, infinitely inspiring audiences with her Oratory, and of course buying 50 mini toy trolls and pigs online. Not only does she have a quirk of personality, but she is always willing to help anyone and everyone work towards their maximum potential.

Annica tells us about what she misses the most in speech. “I miss hanging out with my team and feeling the overwhelming support of everyone in in-person speech.” Lucky for her, the support she gives is retained with unparalleled motivation. “The people at OO and Expos practice have really motivated me to keep going and they restore my passion and excitement in speech.”

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If there’s anything distance learning has taught us all, it is how to be even more effective communicators. Particularly for the Screamin' Eagles, communication is key in an effective and impactful performance, but clearly zoom in not in our favor. “Normally, I would change my tone, draw out my jokes, or exaggerate my levels based on the audience’s reactions, but it is hard to do that over zoom.” To make up for it, Annica has had to work around the severe lag/delay that comes with zoom, and has had to completely transform her bedroom filled with succulents (Annica loves her succulents) to a performance stage.  She has sharpened her skills by competing in tournaments all over America against students from almost every state in the U.S.  

Annica has found some advantages to performing to a camera instead of in person. “The nice thing about online tournaments,” she states, “is that I dont have to wear foot torture devices aka heels, and people can’t tell that im really short.” So while our captain Annica may miss her home away from home (the speech room), she has definitely learned to become more virtually energetic, have a strong presence online, and to let her personality shine through the camera out to her audiences.

 Lucia 3Photos by Luccia Yacoub

mimiMimi is sOOaring

By Luccia Yacoub


While the times have been tough, our Screamin' Eagles have found a light in a dark place. As we continue on this journey of virtual speech and debate, we’re spotlighting some of our Screamin' Eagles this week

We all know high school can be very draining (99.999999% of the time). From dealing with boat loads of homework, to stressful AP classes, to attempting to juggle speech and sports in the midst of it all, it can be overwhelming sometimes. With the barrier of a screen on a device, it’s no easy feat. For junior, Michelle “Mimi” Li, being unable to see and interact with her peers has been quite the challenge. “I really just miss seeing all the people. It was a lot easier to talk to people in the speech room and when passing by between rounds, especially with people that you might not normally talk to,” she stated.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Screamin' Eagles on the 

Mimi 2

online platform is, as Mimi tells us, staying motivated, focused, hopeful and optimistic.  It can be beyond difficult, particularly when approaching a year of popping, gesturing, and trying to make jokes through a screen. 

Mimi, who competes in Humorous Interpretation (HI) and Original Oratory (OO), has drawn inspiration from her teammates.  “The other team members,” Mimi explains, “but the seniors especially. For them to have the motivation during this time to put together speeches that have as much impact as they do really just inspires me to want to work hard on my end as well.”


While this learning curve has come with its difficulties, it most certainly has given birth to infinite blessings. “I learned that connecting with people can make all the difference. At some of the first few online tournaments it really felt long and tiring and nothing like the tournament experiences we were used to,” Mimi said. She also added, “But I realized the main difference in determining how much I enjoyed a tournament was if I got a chance to talk to people before, during and after, whether that be individually over text or facetime or the squad room.


lucciaPhotos by Luccia Yacoub


Blue Annica

Through Thick, Thin, and Scary Friday the 13th’s

By Luccia Yacoub


Normally, Friday the 13th taboos are just superstitions so that the horror industry can make money. But for the Screamin’ Eagles, Southern California, and quite literally the rest of the world, March 13th was perhaps the worst Friday the 13th in human history. 39 Screamin’ Eagles had just qualified for the CHSSA State tournament and 33 were set to compete in the East Los Angeles National Qualifying tournament. 

The future looked bright and promising for the team… that is until Wednesday March 11th, when the Screamin' Eagles received news that the State tournament was cancelled. No more +1 trip to Logan or Casa de Fruta. The national qualifying tournament was “postponed” and the Screaming Eagles were devastated. That stormy Friday, as we were all sent home, thinking we would see each other after “3 weeks”, we never imagined that almost one year later we would still be stuck in this horrible Friday the 13th nightmare. Despite cheese rolls from Porto’s and Krispy Kreme donuts (shoutout to Mama Yacoub), no food, no matter how good, could wash away the pain of being away from the team.

As Heart-breaking as it may seem, the Screamin' Eagles have been through thick and thin. No pandemic, nor lockdown was going to stop the team from practicing, performing, and using their powerful voices. Despite the cancellation of tournaments, banquet, and so much more, the Screamin' Eagles were told to persist! And persisted, they did. 14 students went on to qualify for the national tournament, half of which advanced to elimination rounds, and one reached all the way to the final round. 

Today, the Screamin' Eagles have learned the art of performing from bedrooms, living rooms, and even office spaces. They’ve learned how to perform high broadband or low broadband. They’ve learned to rev each other up in online squad rooms, facetime after every round, and show each other how to cook Gordan Ramsey’s perfect scrambled eggs over zoom. 


While the times have been tough, our Screamin' Eagles have found a light in a dark place. As we continue on this journey of virtual speech and debate, we’re spotlighting some of our Screamin' Eagles this week.


Photos by Luccia Yacoub





Tiff 1

O-P-P, Easy as Tiff-a-ny

By Luccia Yacoub


While the times have been tough, our Screamin' Eagles have found a light in a dark place. As we continue on this journey of virtual speech and debate, we’re spotlighting some of our Screamin' Eagles this week

When we say “queen of pop,” we don’t mean Lady Gaga. We mean our Screamin Eagle c0-captain Tiff. And by pop, we mean popping into characters. Tiff competes in an event called Original Prose and Poetry, or OPP, where the competitor writes and performs their very own piece. From writing a story from scratch to adding characters and blocking, OPP isn’t as easy as it seems. With the addition of slow broadband and small space, OPP becomes even less easy. “I can’t host effective popping competitions because of internet lag,” Tiff said, “Before I’d be able to see very quickly who was popping cleaner but now it’s definitely a challenge to face. It seems to me that the internet cannot replace physical presences and for that I view it as my biggest challenge in speech.”

And while Tiff has learned how to  deal with internet lag and has had to turn her bedroom into a stage, there is one thing that cannot be replaced: the speech room. Tiff says “Before, I was able to walk into the speech room and talk to whoever was in there. I’d see novices performing, people walking around and Tiff 2memorizing, people laughing, and really just seeing people having fun. It’s far more difficult to engage in such activities now and I think everyone can agree with me on that.” 

Despite not being physically together, whether in the speech room or at a tournament, the Screamin' Eagles have been there for one another. They’ve stuck with, encouraged, and motivated one another. For Tiff specifically, she talks about how her motivation comes from her closest friends on the speech team. “An important person in my speech career that has continually pushed me to do more and get up on my feet would be Emily Chen. She is my fellow senior peer and one of my closest friends.” Tiff also added, “ I also want to say that my fellow captains, Bianca and Annica, have also motivated me to keep growing both as a captain, a speaker, and a person. Seeing them work hard for the team inspires me to also work hard.”

For Tiff, the best thing about virtual tournaments is no travel, heels, pantyhose, or growling stomachs. “This gives me time to actually eat breakfast compared to other physical tournaments where I remember skipping food then hearing my stomach grumble in my 2nd round.” 

So times may be tough but as Tiff puts it “Knowing that I’m not alone when helping to lead the team fills me with this sense of comfort and hope.”  

Photos by Luccia Yacoub

Fall Var

Preparation Pays Off at Fall Varsity

By Katelyn Corona

Fall Varsity is highly anticipated by many teams across the Southern California Debate League, and this year was no different. Students were excited for the first Varsity league tournament of the 2020-21 season. With plenty of online experience, the Screamin' Eagles were excellently prepared for Fall Varsity 2020.


Prior to the meet, the Screamin Eagles attended weekly event practices to time and work on their speeches. Online meetings have been an excellent way for students to interact with each other and improve their speeches. Many hours were spent dedicated to coaching and mastering camera angles, lighting, and audio quality. After months of practicing, the team was finally ready for the last competition of 2020. 

With online tournaments, performers run into many issues regarding the internet, cameras, and Zoom. But the one thing students have the most trouble with is attempting to recreate the feeling and energy of an in-person meets. One student said they missed eating tacos, quesadillas, churros, and more from Chanos’ catering with their teammates in between rounds and taking silly event photos. Bus rides to and from the tournament are also highly missed, many inside jokes and lifelong memories are made on the bus to Fall Varsity.

Despite not having the ability to make memories on the bus or get food from the concession stand in between rounds, students still made the best of it. When asked their favorite memories from Fall Varsity, many responded with heartwarming answers like, "My favorite moment would have to be watching my peers progress and growth compared to the last time I've seen them perform," Another excellent response was from Senior Co-Captian and DUO Event Leader, Bianca Lua, "I loved being in a zoom room with the duo event after every round, waiting for awards, and even after awards until about 10:30 at night just talking about life and our speeches. I love them all so much and am very proud to be a part of duo." 

The growth and strength of the team does not go unnoticed. The months of preparation and practice shows in both their performance and scores. After three rounds of preliminary competition, 35 Gabrielino students qualified for the final round. All of their hard work led up to the Screamin’ Eagles winning Fall Varsity for the 21st year in a row. The last time the Screamin Eagles lost a league speech tournament was December of 1999

Congratulations to Joan Tran and Noemi Liu for placing first in Duo, Luccia Yacoub for 1st Expository, Vincent Demarco for 1st in Humor, Halle Fukawa for 1st in Oratory, Bianca Lua for 1st in POI, and Sharon Liu for 1st, and Gabriel Frank McPheter for 2nd in U.S. Extemp. Aside from bragging rights, students also earn “legs” for placing 1st or 2nd in an event at Fall Varsity and Spring Varsity. If a student places 1st or 2nd twice then they automatically qualify for the State Championships this April. 

Good job to all of the Screamin Eagles, keep up the good work, and have an amazing new year! Stay tuned to hear about the tournaments coming up! 


Finally Back to Glenbrooks - Virtually

By Katelyn Corona


It’s been 11 years, since the Screamin’ Eagles have participated in the Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament in Chicago. When the team was presented with this rare opportunity to compete in the tournament online, they practically jumped for joy at the chance to compete against some of the strongest teams in the nation. 


The Screamin’ Eagles were astonished by the diversity of the performances. It was a nice experience for those that have not attended an out-of-state tournament. Due to COVID-19, students cannot compete in-person.  This has allowed the team to attend tournaments all over the nation.


Taking advantage of this amazing opportunity, most students used this tournament as a learning experience. Taking note of the different performances, one student learned a whole new perspective on the delivery and formatting of speeches. 


There were only a small number of Gab students attending the Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament, so they connected through a simple facetime call during the two-day meet. They discussed all the amazing performances they watched and traded tips on how to bring passion to their performances. 


One tip was to make sure you are READY and AWAKE. Being stuck at home can be a downer but if you wake up early, eat a good breakfast, and shake off the nerves then you will most likely succeed. To replace the adrenaline rush of being at an in-person tournament the team did some jumping jacks and hyped each other up. 


Those competing in Interpretation Events such as Drama, Humor, Expository, POI, OI, etc. were guaranteed four preliminary rounds. Other events were guaranteed three to six preliminary rounds. Despite having a small team, the Screamin' Eagles still managed to place 12th out of 271 schools from 37 different states.


Something the team missed was the ability to watch the final rounds for their events. After witnessing so many excellent speeches during the preliminary rounds, the team wanted to be able to see the performances. But because tournaments are now online, it is no longer an option given to the competitors. 


Despite a few hiccups throughout the day, like waking up earlier due to different time-zones, connection issues, and the inevitable Wi-Fi crashes, the team made the best of it! 


After Glenbrooks was over, the team had one final Facetime call to talk about everything. They congratulated Jayme Banh for performing in the quarter-finals, Sharon Liu for making it to the semi-final round, and Gabriel Frank McPheter for placing second overall in Extemporaneous Speaking at the Tournament. They then discussed a game plan for Fall Varsity and how they can use the results of Glenbrooks to further improve their performances!


Good job Screamin’ Eagles!! We are so proud of you, continue to soar! 


Fall Deb pic

Great Debriefs At Fall Debate

By Katelyn Corona


Ever wonder what it would be like to compete in a debate? Well, this year you could've had the chance! After a long year of preparing and practicing, the Screamin’ Eagles Debate Team competed at a tournament. They have been presented with many issues and some stressors, but they worked together to achieve their first goal of the year...competing at Fall Debate.

This year, those who have never competed in Debate before had the opportunity to compete in the Novice rounds! 

The Southern California Debate League 2019 Fall Debate Tournament was held at Pasadena City College but this year it was held in the homes of each competitor. 

The Screamin’ Eagles Debate Team is small in numbers, but no doubt they are mighty. The ever-growing debate team worked very hard in preparation for this year’s Fall Debate. 

Students described the rounds to be exhilarating, competitive, and last but not least entertaining. Debate students used the tournament to "be better prepared on the dynamic between rounds and judges through the virtual setting we all find ourselves." 

Throughout the day, the Screamin’ Eagles debate team conversed through their group chat about the debates they have watched and how they could better improve their performance. The team discovered the importance of communicating with each other during the tournament by recognizing communication is critical before, during, and after a tournament. They were not shy to debrief, ask questions, and provide tips to each other in between rounds. 

After the tournament, the students had one final debrief, which quickly turned into a fun interactive celebratory Zoom call for those that made it to the final rounds. They all laughed, joked, and connected to celebrate all of their hard work. 

Congratulations to Daniel Candia and Gabriel Sundaramoorthy for placing 7th in Public Forum, Sharon Liu and Gabriel Frank McPheter for placing 5th in Public Forum, and Annica Wu for placing 3rd in Lincoln-Douglas Debate!

The team now turns their attention to Fall Varsity. Congrats Screamin’ Eagle Debate! Continue to Soar!



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No Weather Worries This Year for Fall Novice

By Katelyn Corona



As one of the most popular tournaments of the year, the Southern California Forensics League Fall Novice Speech Tournament stole the show. With an overwhelming amount of entries, the meet hosted 18 schools from across Los Angeles. 

Last year, competitors worried about the uncertainty of the  weather; this year, they dealt with the uncertainty of internet connections. Many of the Screamin’ Eagles used Fall Novice as preparation for the team’s first major league tournament of the year, Fall Varsity! Some team members were competing, while the rest were judging!

In preparation for the tournament, varsity students worked tirelessly with the JV's and Novices. One varsity said their experience in preparation for Fall Novice was entertaining, nostalgic, and fun. Due to the inability to practice and perform in-person, practices were held on Zoom. Even though this was different for everybody, the energy was still the same. Varsities and coaches cheered on their peers as they watched their speeches slowly fall into place. "I missed watching speeches so judging and practicing have been so fun," one student added. 

In between rounds, students traded tips and stories about the performances they've seen and given. Tips for internet, audio, and video are the most popular among the Screamin’ Eagles. 

Teammates connected in between rounds by chatting in the squad room, texting, and an occasional facetime call. Students described the rounds to have the same comforting feeling as an in-person tournament, but distant because of the lack of in-person connection. 

Performers rely heavily on reactions from the audience and judges to determine their flow, tone, and sometimes entire performance. Due to the tournaments being online, the audience went from actual classrooms to a couple of boxes on a screen. The Screamin’ Eagles approached this issue by hosting weekly event practices to discuss and understand how to create an authentic in-person experience from their homes. 

No different from previous Fall Novice tournaments, varsity students from all participating schools were allowed the luxury to judge the rounds. One student from Gab described judging to be fun, informative, and different. They used this experience to see a tournament from an alternate perspective and plans for this to enhance their own performances in future tournaments. 

After the rounds, award ceremony, and debriefing with the team, students continued their practicing in preparation for the highly-anticipated Fall Varsity tournament! As the team navigates through these unexpected times, they continue to give their 100%! Good job on the amazing work Eagles! Continue to soar!


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Gab Gab Gab Moves Online

By Katelyn Corona


GabGabGab is often the first tournament most of the Gabrielino Screamin’ Eagles perform at. This year was no exception; all but a handful of team members performed at the Gabrielino Invitational.  49 of them competed in the final round. 

Traditionally, Gabx3 would take place on the Gabrielino High School campus, but due to COVID-19, the tournament was held in the homes of the competitors. The stress of running to different classrooms was substituted for the comfort of performing in your very own home. Junior Julie Qian described the tournament as, "Interesting, Exciting, and Fun," and she continues to add that the tournament pushed her to prepare for more future online tournaments and attend more online practices.

To prepare for the tournament, many students were ready to deal with any computer, connection, or camera issues. Students spent many hours practicing on their own trying to perfect lighting, camera angles, and computer placement. Some students used tape to mark their computer framing to ensure they could always be seen when performing.

Online tournaments are a learning experience for everyone involved so it is highly encouraged to take all the steps necessary to ensure smooth sailing. The Screamin’ Eagles encourage those participating in online tournaments to be prepared for whatever may come their way and to join the virtual squad room in between rounds. 

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During the tournament, the team connected by hanging out in the virtual squad room on Tabroom. The team used this as a way to connect with the freshman and provide words of encouragement. They also debriefed on the rounds and discussed the performances they watched. Many students facetimed their friends after the tournament to further debrief and consider how their performances could improve before the next tournament. Many people talked about how it was harder to perform in front of a virtual audience.

When performing, the competitors rely heavily on the audience. Humor speeches rely on laughs or reaction to jokes. Dramas rely on reactions to character development and evoking emotion during their climax. To ensure a stable connection, the audience and judges are asked to keep their mics off when not speaking or performing. The lack of reaction makes it difficult for some performers but the Screamin’ Eagles soared over these obstacles. Their perseverance did not go unnoticed. 


49 students from Gabrielino High School earned awards for their performance. The novices spent countless hours at practice and having one-on-one virtual coaching. There were novice champions in Extemp, Humor, Expository, and Oratory. The varsities also did extremely well. Their determination for the Screamin’ Eagles shined bright at the Gabrielino Invitational. There were varsity champions in Duo, Humor, Expository, Original Prose and Poetry, Original Advocacy, and Original Oratory. 





First Time at Yale

By Katelyn Corona

October 3rd marked the 28th year in a row Yale University has hosted an invitational speech and debate tournament; however, it was the first time the Screamin’ Eagles could participate in the event.  Travel expenses have prevented the team from competing at Yale every other year.   Since the tournament was online this year, the team took advantage of the opportunity.

 The highly anticipated tournament  hosted 396 schools and nearly 2,000 entries from 41 states.  It ran all day, Saturday and Sunday. Six students from Gabrielino attended the Yale Invitational; seniors Bianca Lua and Annica Wu, juniors Gabriel Frank McPheter, Luccia Yacoub and Daniel Candia, and sophomore Gabriel Sundaramoorthy.

            Students woke up bright and early to accommodate the three hour time difference on the east coast. In preparation for the tournament, students had countless virtual practices with their teammates and coaches. Bedrooms, garages, and backyards quickly turned into classrooms.

            Despite not being surrounded by a team, competitors checked in with each other after each round in the Squad Room. They debriefed what they saw and hyped each other up before the next round. The team connected by playing Among Us and teaching each other all the tips and tricks of the game. In spite of a large number of attendees, the Screamin’ Eagles described it to be intimate and easy to connect with other teams and their fellow competitors.

            One of the biggest differences from in-person tournaments was the lack of an audience. Unlike in-person tournaments, spectators were not allowed in the semi and final rounds. To ensure connection stability, judges and competitors kept their cameras and mic off when not performing or speaking. The adrenaline of performing in front of a large audience was substituted by the stress of lighting, audio, internet connection, and video quality.

            "This tournament was different from previous tournaments around this time of year because it had 5 prelims and 3 out rounds, very similar to nationals! It was also on east coast time so we had to get up a bit early. However, I’d say the biggest and most exciting difference was seeing higher level performances from around the nation so early in the year!" said Bianca Lua when asked how the Yale Invitational was different from previous online and in-person tournaments.

            In preparation for the tournament, Luccia Yacoub made sure to get more than enough sleep and prepare her set-up the night before. Bianca Lua tested lighting, angles, and connection before the tournament so she can focus strictly on her performance. Gabriel Frank McPheter, woke up extra early to have more than enough time to prepare and energize himself before the first round.

            Virtual tournaments are a learning experience for everyone involved. Gabriel Frank McPheter said the Yale Invitational, "prepared me for staying calm but energized regardless of the competition for future online tournaments." Luccia Yacoub said this tournament helped her because "It is SO helpful to get critiques from judges from across the nation and it helps you become a better speaker and gives you insight on how effective you are on sending a message to your audience."

After hours of competing and overcoming different internet obstacles, Bianca Lua placed 3rd in Program Oral Interpretation (POI), Gabriel Frank McPheter placed 7th in Extemp and Luccia Yacoub was in the Semi-Final round of Informative.

Congrats Bianca, Gabriel, and Luccia !!!

The team now turns their attention toward the Gabrielino Invitational taking place on October 17th. Good luck Eagles !!







SCDL Hosts First Online Tournament

By Katelyn Corona

On Saturday, September 26th, Gabrielino Screamin' Eagles attended the first-ever Repackage Deal online tournament.  Hosted by the Southern California Debate League (SCDL), nearly 400 students from the member schools participated. However, despite the endless preparation, students reported this tournament to be relaxed, fun, and helpful.  The first round was Spontaneous Debate, or SPAR. The second round was Scripted Interp. Students were able to pick their scripts before the round.

            The SCDL has traditionally used Package Deal as a tournament for students new to speech and debate.  Each of the four rounds was a different event which required no preparation beforehand.  This year, the league decided to use the meet as a way to give all the judges and students in the league a chance to try out the technology and platform; thus, the term RE-Packaged Deal for this year.

            Competitors described the rounds to be concise and it was a good chance to try out their technology and performance space before the team’s next large tournament, The Gabrielino Invitational in October. Bianca Lua, Screamin Eagle Co-Captain, said "Repackage Deal helped me to get used to seeing other schools in rounds to get prepared for GabGabGab and future tournaments." It may have been different but the Screamin’ Eagles soared through all the obstacles and held their standard form.

            Despite not being surrounded by their team or having the usual tournament adrenaline, the Screamin’ Eagles excelled in every way they possibly could. Making the best out of their situation, they used this tournament as a learning experience to prepare them for the future.

            With only seven to eight people in each round, the tournament moved along quickly and smoothly. The Screamin’ Eagles finished the tournament just in time to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels baseball teams play their final series of the season.

            "It taught me to just have FUN regardless of what tournament and to always be patient with judges...remember they're new to all this too," said Luccia Yacoub.

            The Screamin’ Eagles now turn their attention to the Yale Invitational and Gabrielino Screamin’ Eagles Invitational.  Both of which will be held online.






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Speech At The Virtual Beach

The first big speech and debate tournament of the season has traditionally been the Jack Howe Invitational and Cal. St. Long Beach.  This year was no different.  Except it was very different.  Yes, it was an online tournament, but it was a massive online tournament.  The 259 schools competing represented 39 different states.  There were almost 1,500 students performing.  Good thing it was online: the food court can’t hold 1,500 people. 

Students were again able to double enter in speech and debate events.  Normally, this might mean carrying poster boards from a round in the small building behind the Pyramid Gym across the lower campus, up the long hill, across the upper campus and what is almost a separate time zone to the third floor of the Liberal Arts 1 building.   In virtual speech, it only means leaving one zoom meeting and clicking on another link. 

            When the third and final guaranteed round concluded on Saturday evening, four Screamin’ Eagles qualified for the elimination rounds.  Senior Sharon Liu made it to the top 30 in Lincoln Douglas Debate.  Juniors Luccia Yacoub and Gabriel Frank-McPheter placed 5th and 3rd in Extemporaneous Speaking.  Senior and team co-captain, Bianca Lua, was the champion of Program Oral Interpretation

            Jack Howe 2020, was a monumental tournament.  The Screamin’ Eagles were certainly up to the challenge and represented GabSpeech in an equally monumental manner.  

            The team now focuses its attention on the Yale Invitational coming up in October.

            Way to go Screamin’ Eagles







Lions and Lambs and Eagles Oh My

For First-Ever Virtual Nationals


There’s a famous idiom that describes the month of March as coming in like a lion.  March, 2020 was no different for The Screamin’ Eagles.  The team had just come off their 23rd straight Southern California Debate League Championship and getting ready for the National Qualifying Tournament, State Championships and the league’s Novice Championships.  Gabspeech was roaring like a lion.


Then it happened.  The world came to a slow halt.  Everything promising about the last 9 weeks of school got cancelled piece by piece.  And just like that, March went out like a lamb. 


When April came up on the calendar and all seemed lost for The Screamin’ Eagles, the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) announced they would create the first ever, Online National Championship Tournament and make it happen with only 90 days of preparation.


While sports leagues all across America were suspending or canceling their season, the NSDA looked adversity in the face and quickly transformed.  In turn, local officials put their collective heads together to devise a numeric formula to effectively and fairly select the students who would represent the East LA County / Orange County League at this first ever virtual National Tournament.


With so much change, so many challenges and so much literal distance between coaches and their students all across America, the Nationals would not be the great draw that it has been for the past 90 plus years.  Online just doesn’t feel like live.  A lot of people would be turned off to the idea.


Nope.  The students all across America jumped at the chance.  They rose to the challenge.  The 2020 National Speech and Debate Championships were the largest in the history of the tournament.  The week long competition featured over 6,600 competitors and 3,500 judges from over 1,400 schools.  After setting up over 900 virtual competition classrooms, the NSDA hosted over 4,000 zoom meetings over six days of competition.  Once again, the NSDA was hosting the largest academic competition in the world. 


It wasn’t easy for the 18 GabSpeech National Qualifiers to prepare for the tournament.  They had to have zoom meetings with coaches and their teammates.  They had to practice in their bedrooms, their garages, and in their front yards. 


In a blink of an eye, the entire coaching staff went from practicing in the great speech room to figuring out how to work security features on zoom meetings.  The speech boards had to be replaced by google classroom. 


“I didn’t even have a district email account yet,” commented one of the team’s assistant coaches.  “The next thing I know, I’m using google classroom and my new school account is overflowing with emails and notices.  It happened so fast, but we somehow made it work.”


Teachers and coaches all over America will tell you student motivation and participation were at all-time lows during distance learning.  Junior Bianca Lua saw it as just another challenge to face.  “I found myself being overwhelmed by the preparation for Nationals,” Lua stated.  “I kept wanting to put off the work.  But I learned when you just do it, the stress goes away.  Ultimately, my love for speech pushed me to keep working.”


“Motivation is always an underappreciated aspect of teaching.  Distance learning and ‘lockdown’ just exacerbated existing problems” said one Screamin’ Eagles Coach.  “Many of our students, especially the seniors, became highly unmotivated.  Our team really feeds off the energy they collectively create in the classroom.  When they aren’t physically around each other, we have to find other ways.  Luckily many of our student leaders and our entire coaching staff really stepped up, found the drive, and created an incredible environment for our team to thrive.”


And Thrive they did.  After the first six preliminary rounds of competition concluded and the original 200-400 original entries in each event were narrowed down to the top 60, The Screamin’ Eagles had half their team still in competition. 


When the two octo-final rounds were completed at the end of the fourth day of competition, the top 30 in each event were announced.  Sophomores Geraldine Ly and Alex Lai advanced in the Duo Interpretation event.  Fellow Sophomore, Melanie Hsiang, was listed among the quarter-finalists for Program Oral Interpretation.  Defending State Champion and 2019 National Finalist, Felicia Tang, was among the top 30 for her event of Informative Speaking.


Two quarter-final rounds would determine who would compete in the National Semi-Finals.  “Semis are always the goal,” said one of the GabSpeech Coaches.  “Anyone in the top 14 who isn’t a senior, automatically qualifies for next year, so that’s fantastic.  And all 14 are exceptional, so it’s a great group of people to get to perform with.”  This also meant GHS has had at least one student advance to at least the National Semi-Finals for the eight straight year and  17th time in the past 20 years.  


Senior Felicia Tang, who placed 4th at last year’s national championships, and therefore automatically qualified for this year’s competition, made it to the semis again this year.  Melanie also advanced to the top 14 and thus became The Screamin’ Eagles first qualifier for the 2021 Nationals.  The two became the 41st and 42nd students from Gabrielino to make it all the way to the National Semi-Finals. 


At the end of the fifth day of competition, the top six competitors in each event were announced to perform in the 13th and final round.   The events and the code numbers scrolled across the screen.  Melanie was on the list.  “I was shocked and ecstatic when I saw my code on the screen.  It was crazy to think I was one of the top six in the Nation,” Melanie remarked.  “Just to auto-qual for next year by getting to semis, that was amazing.  I was so humbled and blessed to watch myself in the final round.  I am so proud to be able to represent GabSpeech.”


Felicia placed 10th in her category and ended her illustrious speech career by performing in an incredible 31 rounds of competition at the National Championships, which is the sixth most out of the almost 300 GHS students who have qualified for Nationals.   “It was an interesting experience (to do it online),” Felicia stated.  “But it certainly was not as hot in LA for Nationals as it would have been if we were actually competing in New Mexico like we were supposed to.”


Melanie ranked second in the final round and placed 4th overall in America.  She became the 19th Gabrielino Student to speak in the National Final Round.  The team was awarded the National School of Excellence Award for placing among the top 20 teams in the entire country for the 13th straight year.  Overall, the team placed 13th and 6th in America in the Speech category.


Junior, Annica Wu, perfectly summed up the entire experience, “online Nationals this year was very different from Nationals in Dallas last year.  Although it was disappointing that we couldn’t travel with our team, it opened my eyes to the future of speech and debate tournaments.  Because everything was online, I was able to scrimmage debaters from other states which probably wouldn’t have happened without the pandemic.  Even though it was online, I still learned a lot.  It was a fantastic experience.  I’m so thankful for the opportunity to compete at Nationals for the second straight year.  This experience was unparalleled to any other.”


One of the long time members of the coaching staff reflected, “this was not easy.  Our kids and coaching staff really stepped up.  You have to be able to adapt and evolve.  And we did.  The NSDA took on a huge challenge and went way above and beyond what any of us dreamed they could do in 90 days.   I’m really glad our students got to experience the tournament.  I hope everyone who participated understands that life will throw us challenges.  And I hope they will remember this particular challenge they faced.  I hope they remember the culture of excellence and persistence they were a part of on GabSpeech.  And hopefully they will be able to draw upon this experience to meet and overcome all the challenges they may face throughout their lifetimes.  We are all so proud of the students, coaches, and this entire speech and debate program.”


The school year may have changed in March by a virus, but Gabspeech made sure it ended like an Screamin’ Eagle.  That idiom probably won’t become as famous.  But hey, Happy Summer and congrats to the GHS 2020 Nationals Team.  Way to go Screamin’ Eagles!!





Screamin’ Eagle Sophomore Soars to National Final Round


It certainly wasn’t the way she planned for the season to end when sophomore Melanie Hsiang began her second year on The Screamin’ Eagles Speech and Debate Team.  But it couldn’t have turned out much better.


In the 25-year history of the Gabrielino Speech and Debate Program, only 18 other students had ever advanced to the National Final Round.  Only two sophomores had made it, and they were twins, so combining their experience, it was like one senior. 


Melanie, or “Melmo” as team super-fan, two-year-old Dakota Lee, calls her, started working on her new speech after competing at the 2019 National Championships in Dallas, Texas.  It began just like every other speech year.  Compete at some invitational tournaments, some league tournaments, judge a few novice meets and hopefully qualify for State.   She accomplished each of those tasks.


When Gabrielino shut down for the year back in March due to the pandemic, Melanie was getting ready to compete in the California State Speech and Debate Championships for the second straight year.  As a freshman, Melanie placed fourth in the State and was on track to finish close to the top again this year. 


Luckily for Melanie, her teammates, and over 6,000 other students in America, the National Speech and Debate Association took on the monumental task of moving the National Championships to an online platform and thus allowed the speech and debate season to end in a proper fashion.


Instead of sitting around thinking about how this year won’t be like her trip to Nationals last year, held in Dallas, Texas, Melanie immediately began preparing for her final competition.  She spent countless hours practicing her speech in zoom meetings with her coaches and teammates.   She went over her speech in her bedroom, bathroom and living room; basically anywhere she could to polish her performance to compete with the best in America.


While adapting to distance learning, Melanie and the seventeen other Screamin’ Eagles who qualified for Nationals had to master independent learning, advanced level time management and prepare for their toughest competition of the year.   It was nine weeks of school stress plus a couple more weeks of pre-nationals super speech stress.  Through it all, Melanie kept her grades up, continued her speech work and counted down the days until Nationals.


After three days of competition, twelve rounds of zoom meeting performances and making it through three different online announcements of “breaks” for advanced levels, Melanie saw her name listed to compete in the National Final round.   Over two hundred students had qualified for Nationals in her event, Program Oral Interpretation.  The field had been narrowed down to the top six.


“I was shocked and estatic when I saw my code on the screen’” Melanie remarked.  “It was crazy to think I was one of the top six in the Nation.” 


Since the tournament was online, Melanie had the opportunity to watch the round with her parents.  “We were able to hook the computer up to the television, so everyone could watch,” she stated. 


Melanie’s family, and everyone in America with a decent internet connection could see her perform.  And just a few hours later they all watched as Melanie joined her final zoom meeting of the tournament to virtually be named the fourth place competitor in POI in all of America for 2020.


After the awards, messages flooded the team’s Instagram page.  Teammates, team parents and alumni all congratulated her on a fantastic performance.  Melanie gushed. “just to auto-qual for next year by getting to semis, that was amazing.  I was so humbled and blessed to watch myself in the final round.  I am so proud to be able to represent GabSpeech.”  She even made a point to go online and virtually thank her coaches for all their help and support. 


Here’s an interesting fun fact.  The only other sophomores to perform in the National Finals placed fifth, together, in Duo Interpretation, 2014.  So, Melanie is the highest placing sophomore in the 26-year history of the Gabrielino Speech and Debate Team.


Next year, Melanie’s junior year, will start soon and how it looks is anyone’s guess.  It probably won’t look anything like normal.  Regardless of the situation, appearance, or platform, Melanie will continue to prepare and practice in pursuit of perfecting her performance.  She will, however, know she is already qualified for the 2021 National Championships.  Her only hope will be that several of her teammates will be able to join her in Iowa (or online) next June.


Way to go Melmo!!  We are so proud of you!!






Academic All-Americans: A Perfect 10


When National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) named the 2020 Academic All-Americans, ten Screaming Eagles were on the list.  19 qualifications to the State Championships, 10 to Nationals, a handful of State Finalists, A State Champion and 4th place in all of America.  That’s a pretty impressive list.


To get on the list, students had to complete five semesters of high school, earn a grade point average (GPA) of 3.7, or a 3.5 GPA with a minimum ACT score of 27 or an SAT score of 1300, and attain at least 750 National Speech and Debate Association (NSAD) points in competition.  The NSDA is the second largest honor society in the United States next to the National Honor Society (NHS).


Senior Co-Captain, Jaden Raymundo leads the team of outstanding Gabrielino seniors.  Brandon Du, Khin Han, Starlee Hoc, Lin Knudsen, Francesca Pondevida, Felicia Tang, Raymond Tran, Sam Villescas, and Katherine Xie round out the group of 10.


The team released a statement commending the students.  “The Class of 2020 Screaming Eagles continued the long history of excellence in the academic and competition classrooms.  We are excited to have the national organization honor these fantastic students.  We are certain this group of students will go on and continue to make enormous positive impacts in the world.”


These Screamin’ Eagles have accomplished a great deal in their four years at Gabrielino.   Congrats.  And to Starlee, Jaden, Felicia, and Sam, best of luck at Nationals in June as you continue to add to the legacy of the 2020 GabSpeech Senior Class







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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