The Jackrabbit Jamboree Speech and Debate Tournament

Last weekend, on February 7th and 8th, ACP-Erie’s Speech and Debate team participated in the second annual Jackrabbit Jamboree at Mesa High School. Interested in experiencing the event first-hand, I attended a portion of the tournament on Saturday. Although I chose to sleep in until 9 A.M. on Saturday morning, rather than waking up at 6 A.M. to hop on the bus to Mesa High, I enjoyed spectating several rounds of the tournament. From hearing Original Oratories about modern-day problems to watching the Duet Acting competitors, I learned a lot about the commitment and hard work required to participate in Speech and Debate.

Pictured from left to right: Ananya Lakhotia, Kristin Myer, Skylar Hudson, Nicole Lee

At the end of the night, students gathered to find out who had earned an award. The following students from ACP-Erie took home awards at the tournament:

Lincoln Douglas Debate

2nd – Zoe Soderquist

Public Forum Debate

3rd – Shannon Mckenna & Yoojin Han

Novice Public Forum Debate

3rd – Frederick Changho & Brandon Lazna

Duet Acting

1st – Natasha Zimmerman & Sebastian Javadpoor

These students received bids for the University of Kentucky Tournament of Champions:

Original Oratory – Yoojin Han

Extemporaneous Speech – Damien Rivera

The following students earned bids for the National Individual Events Tournament of Champions in Houston, Texas:

Extemporaneous Speech – Damien Rivera & Parsa Amini

Informative Speech – Delaney Krieger & Natasha Zimmerman

Original Oratory: Yoojin Han

Duet Acting: Sebastian Javadpoor & Natasha Zimmerman

The late nights and early mornings that come with being on the team paid off for these students! To learn more about what it’s like to be on the Speech and Debate team, I interviewed senior Parsa Amini:

Q1: Which events do you participate in?

A1: Extemporaneous, Lincoln-Douglas, Impromptu, and occasionally Public Forum with Sebastian Javadpoor.

Q2: How does Extemp work?

A2: Thirty minutes prior to you entering the room, you are given a political question ranging from something simple and domestic, such as federal regulations on Amazon, or a more obscure topic, like the recent shift in Lithuanian political parties. Within this thirty minutes, using only news articles you have saved offline and your own topic knowledge, you construct a seven-minute speech, which must adequately answer the prompt with valid cited sources. The bar for these speeches is relatively high; you aren’t allotted any fluency issues and are expected to demonstrate a deep analysis of the topic no matter its opaqueness. 

Q3: What do you enjoy most about being in Speech and Debate?

A3:  There is a rush associated with being forced to quickly, with nothing but your wits, devise a solution to a problem you didn’t even know you would have to deal with today. The flexibility crucial to success on a consistent basis, whether it’s in debate or impromptu speaking, is a rigorous testament to mental acuity and an effective, albeit cruel, whetstone to sharpen oneself against.

Q4: Now for a fun fact about yourself… If you could plant anything in a garden, what would you plant?

A4: A lemon tree, an apple tree, a cherry tree, an orange tree, and a kiwi plant. Basically a fruit salad.

Thank you, Parsa, for your take on what it’s like to be in Speech and Debate. As well, congratulations to the listed Speech and Debaters for taking home wins at the tournament!