Speech and Debate Places First in Duet Acting at Mountain View


Photo Credits: Michelle Sheikh

Ananya Lakhotia, Skylar Hudson, Shannon McKenna, and Yoojin Han (from left to right) take a break before more competition!

Last weekend, on November 8th and 9th, ACP-Erie’s Speech and Debate Team competed at the 26th annual Mountain View Toro Country Classic. The tournament had 38 schools competing, with around 1,000 junior high and high schoolers from across Arizona. ACP-Erie placed 5th overall at Mountain View! At the tournament, juniors Skylar Hudson and Ananya Lakhotia took home a first-place win in Duet Acting. As well, Sebastian Javadpoor and Natasha Zimmerman placed second in Duet Acting with their performance of “Forensics Marriage”. 

Friday afternoon and evening were filled with debating; Congressional Debate began early in the morning and Public Forum Debate rounds started at 3:30 P.M. Saturday was reserved for speech events and debate rounds for debaters who “broke”, or qualified, on Friday night. Shannon McKenna and Yoojin Han won all four of their Varsity Public Forum rounds on Friday, but due to a posting error, they did not learn they had qualified until the next morning when they arrived at the tournament. Although they did not place in finals, qualifying to debate on Saturday was still an exciting accomplishment! There were 42 other teams competing in Varsity Public Forum, including seniors and debaters who had attended debate summer camps and national tournaments in previous years.

The Speech and Debate Team woke up at 5 A.M. on Saturday morning, and they hopped on the bus toward Mountain View before sunrise. However, frantic preparations in the days leading up to the tournament and waking up early on the day of the tournament paid off for Skylar and Ananya when they secured their first place win. The event they were competing in, Duet Acting, required acting out an approximately twelve-minute performance of a published script. To learn a little more about their first place win, I interviewed Skylar and Ananya.

Q1: What event did you compete in? How did you do?

A1 – Ananya: For Mountain View, I competed in Duet Acting and Original Oratory, but usually I do Public Forum Debate, too. I got to semi-finals in Original Oratory, which I thought was pretty good for my second time doing it, and my partner and I took 1st place in Duet Acting!

Photo Credits: Ananya Lakhotia
Skylar (left) and Ananya (right) celebrate after their big win!

Q2: Could you tell me a little more about your script and why you chose it?

A2 – Skylar: The script is about two teenaged girls, one named Sarah (that’s me!) who’s totally boy-crazy and obsessed with getting a cute guy in her math class to go to junior prom with her. Ananya plays Melissa, a character who placates her best friend’s behavior. Honestly, she’s fed up with Sarah because this is the sixth guy she’s asked out— hence the title, “The Sixth Time’s a Charm”. This script very accurately represents our personalities, so playing these characters is not much of a challenge. I’m always trying to find someone, and Ananya’s always listening to me talk about them.

Q3: How much preparation did you do for this tournament?

A3 – Skylar: We didn’t have a ton of time to prepare for it, but we met every Monday to work on it. We had to make sure we knew where our imaginary set was (because in duet acting, you only get a table and two chairs). We also reviewed blocking, facial expressions, and lines. It’s hard work, but it’s so rewarding in the end.

Q4: What is your favorite memory from this tournament?

A4 – Skylar: Finals rounds were over, and we were the only team in the outside cafeteria area. It was getting late, and we were all kind of delirious.We decided to start challenging each other to arm wrestle. It was such a strange experience, but it was also so fun. We spent 30 minutes switching arm wrestling partners with each other. Yoojin Han tried using both of her hands to beat Connor Kantrud. Sebastian Javadpoor and Natasha Zimmerman even starting doing push-up challenges. Bonding over our sleeplessness and getting closer to each other is one of the best parts about being on Speech and Debate.

Photo Credits: Mr. Rumsey
Skylar Hudson immerses herself in the arm wrestling competition.

Q5: What is the best part of being a member of the speech and debate team?

A5 – Ananya: As cheesy as it sounds, it’s probably the team and the bond that you end up forming with them. Honestly, I think it’s just the fact that we are spending weekends upon weekends with each other and struggling together that ends up with us having some pretty great friendships. Tournaments are long and hard, so it’s amazing to have a huge support system lifting you up. Plus, it helps to know that you’re not the only one slowly descending into delirium.

Q6: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in joining speech and debate?

A6 – Ananya: It’s hard. Unbelievably hard. It takes hours upon hours of prep and dedication, and sometimes it makes you want to rip your hair out and scream. But it’s also weirdly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s one of those things that you get out what you put in, so if you’re ready to put in the effort, you’re going to get out amazing experiences, skills, and friendships. I would tell anyone who’s thinking of joining, do it because you want to.

Q7: Which tournaments do you have coming up soon?

A7 – Skylar: We have two tournaments left in the semester: Mesquite High and Winter Trophy. Mesquite is actually this Friday, and it’s going to be a bit smaller than Mountain View was. Winter Trophy last year was an amazing tournament for ACP. We tied for first place overall in our division, so we have very high hopes to do just as well this year.

The 2019 Mesquite Water Tower Invitational is this Friday and Saturday, November 15th and 16th at  Mesquite High School. Winter Trophy is coming up soon too, on December 6th and 7th at Arizona State University. Congratulations to Skylar and Ananya for placing high, and good luck to the Speech and Debate Team at these upcoming tournaments!