Speech and debate teams kicks off successful year

with another batch of top students, award-winning program leads its 17-school league



Speech and debate students gather after competing at Ponderosa High School.

Granite Bay High School’s speech and debate program has made many notable successes as its competition season sparks into action.

The team consists of an array of exceptional students, many of whom  joined the program in search of different qualities.

“When I was younger, I was a really shy person and I found it really hard to share my ideas,” said sophomore Shreya Nagunuri, a member of the team. “My parents decided to enroll me in (the speech and debate program) and I have continued ever since.”

For other members, including sophomore Suraj Parikh, this stellar program has proven to be a useful source of political topics many students find important on campus.

I’m … interested in political issues, and speech and debate was the best way to learn about … and discuss them,” Parikh said.

Speech and debate consists of a total of 16 events: 12 speech events and four debate events, ranging from informative to dramatic styles of speech and debate.

By any measure, GBHS has the strongest team in the league.

— Robert Prichard

One event that requires quick thinking is called parliamentary debate, a style of debate in which the topic is given to students 20 minutes before the competition begins.

Extemporaneous speaking, a speech event in which the topic is given to students 30 minutes before a seven-minute speech, reiterates this quick thinking that speech and debate helps students develop.

“Parliamentary debate and extemporaneous speaking are definitely my favorite events because you have to think on your feet and you learn a lot,” Parikh said.

Robert Prichard, the adviser of the speech and debate program at GBHS, said the number of categories means there is something for everyone.

“There really is a debate event for anyone who wants to give it a try,” Prichard said.

The speech and debate program also provides students with important skills that are helpful throughout their entire lives.

Ishna Pandey, a captain of the speech and debate team, described the impact her participation has had on her overall awareness of society and her ability to communicate with others.

“Speech makes you more persuasive and eloquent at conveying important information, while debate helps you become more spontaneous by thinking on your feet,” Pandey said. “Debate also (helps) me develop viewpoints on important matters, and it makes students more informed citizens.”

We are the leading chapter in the league this year, (having) the highest recorded strength of all 17 schools in the league.

— Ishna Pandey

As this year’s competition season begins, the speech and debate team has already made a mark.

“We are the leading chapter in the league this year, (having) the highest recorded strength of all 17 schools in the league,” Pandey said. 

In the team there are also state finalists and students holding undefeated victories. 

“Last year, my partner and I were able to go to the state competition,” Nagunuri said. “I was also able to compete at nationals with some members of the team.”

This year seems to be no different than the success of last year’s competition season. 

“More than half of our students had a win loss record of 3-1 or better at our first debate competition at Ponderosa High School,” Prichard said. “By any measure, GBHS has the strongest team in the league.”

With their success, the speech and debate program will receive another notable award.

“(The program) will be awarded the leading chapter award at the close of this year for gaining more awards than any other team over a three-year period,” Prichard added. 

Apart from the team’s recent successes, the program acts as a creative outlet and safe space for many students on campus.

“We work together as a team on research,” Pandey said. “And even though people compete individually, we support each other.”