On March 25 to 26 the National Speech and Debate Association held a national qualifier at Claremont High School in Claremont, California. Citrus Valley seniors Lindsay Neighbors and Emily Fu took their last shot at Nationals in their high school careers. Fu qualified in the Domestic Extemporaneous event which is a one-on-one debate where the students are given a topic, their position, and only 30 minutes to prepare. Neighbors placed in Domestic Extemporaneous and Lincoln-Douglas which is another one-on-one debate in which the students are allowed to research their topic beforehand and lasts about 45 minutes. The following is a Q & A with the two girls.
Q: Can you explain how a typical competition works?
Emily: It usually runs from 7am to 7pm. You debate as my rounds as you can, but as soon as you loose 2 rounds you’re out. Lindsay made it to round 7 with only one loss in the Lincoln Douglas debate.
Q: How long have you been doing speech and debate and what’s your favorite aspect of it?
E: 4 years for both of us. I like that you can cover a large range of topics about things you’ve never heard of. You can also get a good understanding of things you thought you knew about.
Lindsay: That and a better understanding of how the world works. You can get a global view of different topics.
Q: How much preparation goes into a speech, and how does your coach help with that?
E: Well we’ve had 5 different coaches in the past 4 years we’ve been doing this. So most preparation comes from students. I’ll usually email Lindsay what I’ve prepared and she’ll give me feedback and comments on it.
L: It can take 2 or 3 hours to build a case or up to 2-3 days from scratch.
Q: Isn’t that hard to juggle with school work? You both take a lot of AP classes.
L: Yea, it gets hard to juggle with APs. Especially the week of competitions.
Q: Would you consider doing this in college?
E: The college speech and debate format very different as they have 5 person debates. At this level now we do individual events. I’m not going into law or politics so probably not.
L: I’m going into political science, so I’ll definitely look into it.
Q: What’s one important thing you’ve learned about the world, or even yourself, throughout your speech and debate career?
E: Definitely keeping an open mind. We have to debate both sides of a topic and you might realize both arguments are justified. Sometimes at the end I don’t know where I stand.
L: For me it was about personal growth. At first people who join are not very outgoing. You may join to know how the world works, but learn more about themselves in the process.