SCU Philalethic Invitational

Both Irvington Speech Club and Irvington Debate Club demonstrate improvement as season draws to a close

Kelsey Ichikawa and Arya Sureshbabu | Features Apprentice and News Apprentice

A host of Vikings from Speech Club and Debate Club competed in the Santa Clara University Philalethic Speech and Debate Invitational from April 12 to 13, bringing home eleven awards in total. The tournament was the last major tournament of the season for most competitors.

“Members showed distinct improvement from the beginning of the year,” remarked junior and Speech Club co-captain Rohit Dilip. “We have quite a few freshmen who started off the year in novice categories and have concluded the year with high rankings in the varsity category.”

Members of the Debate Club participated in both the Open and Novice Divisions of Parliamentary Debate at the invitational, and closed with an overall record of 33-27. In the Open Division, senior Nish Dara and junior Abhinav Bhardwaj (ranked 5th seed after the preliminary rounds) and freshmen Rishabh Meswani and Sam Moturi (ranked 6th seed after the preliminary rounds) advanced to octofinals. In the Novice Division, freshmen Ishani Deshpande and Sriya Lingampalli (ranked 1st seed after the preliminary rounds) and sophomores Aismit Das and Kanak Garg (ranked 7th seed after the preliminary rounds) also advanced to octofinals.

In addition, seven of the eight competitors from Speech Club advanced to the final rounds in their respective events. Senior Emon Datta was a finalist in Novice Oratorical Interpretation, while juniors Tiffany Lo and Kelsey Ichikawa won third place and first place (respectively) in the Open Division of the event. Freshman Michelle Huang was ranked first in Open Extemporaneous, and freshman Akanksha Jain placed third in Open Impromptu. Juniors Rohit Dilip and Arya Sureshbabu were also finalists in Open Impromptu.

This was a fairly high percentage of people who made it to finals in both speech and debate, especially considering that this tournament was an invitational and thus featured more difficult competition than could be found at most league tournaments. Many students attributed their success and improvement throughout the year to lessons they learned and skills they gained through their experiences in prior tournaments this season.

For participants in speech, this experience came in the form of learning how to interact with their judges without feeling intimidated by the content they have to deliver.

“I think the most important thing is that I’ve gained a lot of experience from attending so many tournaments,” commented  Michelle Huang. “I feel much more confident and comfortable giving a speech to a judge than when I first started out.”

“I’ve learned new skills and learned how to read and interpret judges and their reactions,” added Akanksha Jain.  “I’ve especially learned to think on my feet and organize my thoughts quickly.”

Debaters also claimed that they had learned much about the nature of parliamentary debate, which ultimately enabled them to succeed.

“Throughout the year, I’ve learned that research is absolutely essential,” stated Rishabh Meswani. “In parliamentary debate it isn’t impossible to beat anyone because both teams have only a certain amount of data which they have to process. Whoever processes it the best wins!”

The speech club finalists group together after the awards ceremony. Photo: Melissa Wong
The speech club finalists group together after the awards ceremony. Photo: Melissa Wong