The National Championships With Consistency
The National High School Speech and Debate Championships have been going on for just under 100 years. The 2021 version was the - largest - one - ever!
Last year’s tournament consisted of submitted videos being viewed by judges over 13 rounds of competition. This year, the tournament was online again, but the speeches and debates happened live and to make it more challenging, they added another round.
In a time where there is so much change, so much uncertainty and so much chaos, the Screamin’ Eagles provide an unwavering consistency.
For the fourteenth year in a row, the team was named a National Speech School of Excellence. Other than the 23rd place finish in 2018, the team has been in the top 10 in speech each of the past 14 years at Nationals.
The team’s 3rd place finish in speech this year was their best showing since the 2014 team tied for 2nd.
Overall (speech and debate combined), the team placed 7th in America. In 12 of the past 14 National Championships, Gabrielino has placed in the top 15 in the entire country. Eight times, including this year, they’ve been in the top 10.
As long as we’re talking about streaks, in 13 of the last 14 years, The Screamin’ Eagles have had at least one student advance all the way to the National Semi-Finals, the top 14 students in the nation.
This year, three GabSpeech members made it to the elite level. Senior Kelli Ong, qualifying for her first ever Nationals, made the most of it by placing 14th in Informative Speaking. Junior Melanie Hsiang followed up her final round performance last year with a 10th place showing in Program Oral Interp. Junior Gabriel Frank-McPheter became Gabrielino’s 20th National Finalist and placed 2nd overall in United States Extemporaneous Speaking.
All those stats sound easy. It has to be if they do it each and every year. Right? Wrong. This year was tougher than ever. Most events started with over 300 students who had already defeated thousands of other students across the nation just to qualify for Nationals.
Students were given six preliminary rounds. Then, the top 100 were announced in each event. Gabrielino advanced 13 of its 17 speech qualifiers to the top 100. After two more live rounds, the top 60 were announced. All but 1 made it to the top 60.
Let’s do that math. Over two thirds of Gab’s speech qualifiers made it to the top 20% at the tournament. That’s impressive. But it is the Gab standard they have set over the past almost two decades.
Two more rounds used to whittle down the field to 30. Kelli, Melanie and Gabriel “Frank” were joined in the National Quarterfinals by teammates Karyme Pena and Vincent DeMarco in Duo Karyme and Vincent ended up 21st place in their event, just seven spots short of being in the Semi-Finals with their other three teammates. .
“It may be online, but it’s still just as stressful of a competition,” said a member of Screamin’ Eagles’ coaching staff.
When Melane and Gabriel made semis, they automatically qualified for the 2022 National Championships which are scheduled to be held in Louisville, Kentucky next June. They will also be the team’s 5th and 6th Gab students to qualify for Nationals all four years of their high school careers.
A lot of numbers, a lot of stats and a lot of success. Way to go Screamin’ Eagles!!!!
Frank Rocks The Finals
In his first two years as a member of The Screamin’ Eagles, Gabriel Frank-McPheter, of “Frank” as the team calls him, enjoyed great success. He qualified for the National Championships both years.
Given only 6% of the students in America who participate in Speech & Debate qualify for Nationals, Frank was already in elite standing. However, he never ranked well enough to make it past the guaranteed, preliminary rounds at the premiere tournament.
This year, his junior year, he qualified for the National Championships for a third time. And after placing second in his event at the California State Speech & Debate Championships this past April, Frank was laser focused on advancing to the out rounds at Nationals.
And advance he did. Frank marched through the first six prelims and next eight rounds to get all the way to the National Final Round in United State Extemporaneous Speaking. In one of his Semi-Final rounds, four of the five judges awarded Frank with the first place in the round. Indeed Frank learned from his previous experiences at Nationals and was rewarded with the opportunity to compete with five other students in the final round for a chance at being crowned National Champion.
Frank certainly isn’t the first Gabrielino finalist. He was the 20th to be in the finals. He wasn’t even the first in Extemp. Four other students have been on the same stage (although the “stage” this year was virtual since the whole tournament was online because...you know by now...Covid). But, Frank’s claim to fame is that he was the first Extemper to ever make finals as a junior. The legends, Little Richie, Kevin and Alex Ye and Timmy Chunga were seniors when they made it to the premiere round.
The pressure didn’t distract Frank. He gave an incredible speech on what he believed President Biden’s administration will do in regards to police reform. After his seven minute speech, he was cross examined by the previous speaker. Frank then cross examined the competitor who spoke after him about the content of her speech.
As great as he performed his speech, his questions and answers were even better. One judge commented, “I literally wrote ‘ROCK STAR’ in my notes next to my section on questions.”
After 15 rounds of competition and 43 (forty three) different judges ranked the speakers in Frank’s rounds, Frank and a student from South Carolina tied for the National Championship. Sadly, the tie-breaker was the rank in the final round and the other student had slightly better scores in the Finals. As a result, Frank placed 2nd in all of America.
Given that the 347 students Frank beat at Nationals had to, themselves, better thousands of other students across the country at all the local qualifying events just to get to the Championships, Frank’s Finals feat is even more impressive.
By virtue of placing in the top 14 of his event, Frank automatically qualified for the 2022 National Championships. As one of the top three extempers, Frank was also invited to the National Great Debate Championships in July being held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.
Great job RockStar Frank and good luck!!!!
2021 National Administrator of the Year
The National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) has named Gabrielino Principal, Sharron Heinrich the 2021 National Administrator of the Year. Earlier this year, Mrs Heinrich was named the East Los Angeles County / Orange County District Administrator of the Year.
Mrs. Heinrich was selected from the pool of nominees from the other 100 NSDA Districts across the nation.
Mrs. Heinrich was the founder and first head coach of the Speech & Debate Team during Gabrielino’s first year as a school.
Congratulations, Mrs. Heinrich - our Mother Eagle!!!
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 https://live.speechanddebate.org
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.
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