The C building hallway, rooms C109, C111, and the Little Theater, were filled with diligent speech and debate team members rehearsing with each other and talking to walls to prepare for the Pacific Southwest Collegiate Forensics Association (PSCFA) Fall Championship.
The Speech 5 class consisting of the team meets regularly every Tuesday and Thursday.
There are three different groups in the team. The first one is platform. Platform students do informative, persuasive, and funny speeches. The second is interp, or interpretation of literature, which is similar to acting. Interp students do monologues, prose, and poetry speeches. And the last is debate, which consists of students arguing over a certain topic or current event.
Speech professor and the team’s director Cindy Phu said that the debate section practices by continuously debating.
“We give them a new topic. It could be about anything. Economic, world poverty, global conflict, and international relationship,” Phu said. “They get twenty minutes. And they prepare and speak and do a whole round. And we just keep on doing that.”
The interp section practices by internalizing their characters.
“They think about how this character would feel and when this event happens, how does that change,” Phu said. “Their working on their facial expressions. Is it authentic and is it genuine?”
The team has a new debate coach, Jay Arntson. In the past, speech professor Stephanie Fleming served as the debate coach but she is now the Academic Senate’s secretary. Since she left, the debate section has been struggling. However, the entrance of Arnston has change the atmosphere.
“Now our debate’s numbers are really great,” Phu said. “Every tournament they are placing. They are doing well. And so our debate side is well represented because of [Arntson].”
She encourages her students to have their own personal goals.
“Every performance that they give, we encourage them to try to make that performance better than the last one. So that they have personal goals beyond the trophies that’s at the tournament,” Phu said. “So if every performance that they perform, even if they take first place, their goal for their next performance should be still better than the previous performance. And so that kind of pushes them to always be better and get better.”
Melvyn Marroquin, who is part of the debate section, said his group focuses on applying their skills outside of just competitions.
“In debate, we mostly research topics and prepare ourselves for real life discussions,” Marroquin said. “So that not only do we know how to discuss things in the big rounds at tournaments but so that we can also apply it in real life.”
Diamond Or, who is part of the platform section and won first place in Novice Persuasive Speaking at the CSUN tournament last November, spoke about how she is preparing for the fall championship.
“I’m just really trying to memorize everything right now. Memorize, practice, practice, practice is what it is,” Or said. “The more time you put in, the more you’re going to see for like a better improvement. For speech it’s just really putting that time and the effort.”
Or’s mindset going in for the tournament is to try not to think too much.
“I just try to go in with a clear mind,” Or said. “And just think about giving a good performance and having people that were watching you, you want them to enjoy it and just getting the word out for whatever that you’re talking about and that’s what I think matters the most.”
Elijah Trinidad and Marcos Santos are both part of platform and interp. Trinidad won third place in his Novice Poetry Interpretation Performance at the CSUN tournament last November.
“With our interp side, what we do is every day we run our piece from beginning to end, in front our coaches,” Trinidad said. “And at the end they tell us what we need to work on. We work on our body language, emotion, our empathy, and we take that into consideration.”
Practice is different for platform.
“For [platform] right now, we also do the same thing but we do more all to an extent where we do something called ‘line by line’. It’s where a group of us come into a circle and we say one line of our speech and we keep going until we all reach our end of our speech,” Trinidad said. “Also what I do, is that I can’t articulate well. So I always look myself in front of the mirror and articulate my words and work on my body language.”
Santos won first place in Novice Informative Speaking in the CSUN tournament last November. His personal mindset is to stay focused.
“Do your best job, go in there confident, and going for the kill,” Santos said. “I mean like that’s how we got to think. That’s how I think for sure. I got to think aggressively but at the same time stay calm too because you tend to get nervous. So stay calm, stay focus, and stay hungry.”