Students’ passion for Speech and Debate is undebatable as they advance in tournaments

Emily Flores


Sophomore Reya Waddell and freshman Lauren Galvez love how the Speech and Debate team challenges them. In just a few months, they have won several awards at competitions. 

“Speech and Debate are important to me because my dad is my coach and it gave me so many advantages as I was growing up,” Galvez said. “(It) gave me certain advancements when trying to understand what the government wants to do or a new policy, etc.”

The Speech and Debate team meets on Mondays and Wednesdays after school at 2:30 pm. Initially, they had eight members when they started but are now down to two. Other students who joined had other commitments so they dropped the team. They would like other students to check them out and see if that is something they would like to participate in and compete in.

Waddell has been doing speech and debate since middle school and Galvez has been doing it since the third grade. Sadia Aziz, a resource teacher at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS), started the club for students to join. DPMHS did not have a team before so Aziz was motivated to sponsor the club to offer students another extra-curricular activity to choose from.

“The coach, which is also Lauren’s father, reached out and he wanted Lauren to have an experience with a school team before she was working solo,” Aziz said. “I also feel like it is something that students can enjoy. It was something that I did as a student so I believe it is something good for the students.” 

Both Galvez and Waddell have been successful in the tournaments they’ve been attending virtually since the fall. Both Galvez and Waddel will compete this weekend at the 35th Annual Stanford University National Invitational Stanford Speech & Debate Tournament.

  • On Sept. 26, Galvez placed second place in Prose Interpretation at the T.O.C. Invitational in Texas. 
  • On Nov. 14, Waddell placed fifth in her Chamber and 10th overall in Congressional Debate at this national invitational for first year competitors.
  • On Dec. 19, Waddell placed first and Galvez fourth in Oratorical Interpretation in Tri-County Forensic League, which DPMHS belongs to.
  • On Jan. 22, Galvez placed first place in Oral Interpretation.
  • On Jan. 23, Waddell received first place in Oratorical Interpretation at a SoCal Invitational.

“Though it is a local (Tri-County Forensic) league, it is important because if we remain in the top six by next month, we will become the first Pearl students to qualify for the State Championship Contest in April,” Galvez said. 

Before a debate, Waddell feels some of the stress that comes with preparing for the competitions. 

“I love to debate,” Waddell said. “I mean, preparation for the competition does make me feel a bit overwhelmed and stressed but when it comes to the day of the competition, the debate makes me feel so confident and happy. I feel the debate is worth the time and effort I put into it.” 

Galvez’s feelings for speech and debate affect her emotions before the competition starts. She usually does not have a singular emotion like her experiences with other speech

and debaters.

“My feelings for speech and debate may vary as it depends on what tournament I am going to or what speech events (I am participating in also) affect my emotions, even the schedule for my rounds,” Galvez said. “If I am doing a state tournament with Oratorical Interpretation or Dramatic Interpretation, I will feel a little bit more confident.”

Waddell feels like it is worth being in the speech and debate team because it helps her get out of her comfort zone. She also wants to learn the leadership skills speech and debate teaches her. She wants to continue pushing herself to be better and more confident at a young age. 

“I feel the Speech and Debate Club is helping me get out of my comfort zone,” Waddell said. “I am not going to lie. I always get a little nervous when I have to present in front of everyone. I know they are going to be asking me questions afterward. I love to voice my opinion and it is important to me that my voice gets heard.”