Speech and Debate: A Recap on Recent Success

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The Speech and Debate crushed competition this year.

Virgil Andreasen

The Speech and Debate crushed competition this year.

Arroyo Grande’s Speech and Debate team has wrapped up a very successful season. The club, advised by Laura Wade and Chris Ryan finished its 2022 season with much success. 

Lily Klapper had a particularly fine season. Klapper, 25’, joined speech and debate on a whim and didn’t expect success in her first season. Most freshmen find their age a disadvantage, but Klapper does not. 

In competitions, she uses her age as something to set her apart. 

“It feels cool just because I go up to competitions and I ask them how old [the other competitors] are just so I can have them ask me and be like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m a freshman’ to intimidate them. I like it. It’s nice and when you throw that in the end, everyone’s usually surprised.” 

When Klapper competed in the Lions Club Regional speaking competition under the event of Prepared Speech or Original Oratory, she took top honors as well as $250, and moved on to the next level of competition speaking on the topic “How Can Kindness Reunite Our Country.” She used her speech again in the second level, where she took top honors as well as a hefty $4500 scholarship.

Klapper and Mr. Ryan pose together. Photo courtesy of Klapper

Klapper’s speech “How Can Kindness Reunite Our Country ” has been reused and revised with the help of her coaches on each level of competition. In each revision, it perfected her message as well as doubled in time. Klapper said the key to a well-received speech is knowing your audience.” 

“I knew my audience was going to be an older demographic of predominantly white males so I made connections to Theodore Roosevelt.” 

Besides tailoring her speech to her audience, Klapper also covered recent and relevant topics to give her speech a sense of modern-day urgency and appeal to people’s emotions. 

I brought in [information] about Ukraine and Russia, ” Klapper said, knowing these issues are important present-day topics applicable to her belief of how kindness is key to reuniting the people of this country. 

Common fears amongst students are presentations and speeches. The fear of human’s natural flaw, forgetfulness. 

Klapper faces this fear head-on. 

“I have zero note cards. You’re allowed to have no cards at this stage, but I choose not to because it doesn’t look as good,” Klapper said. 

This leads to her overall professional performance.  

Klapper’s key to getting down her memorization is through practice; tons and tons of practice. 

“This is embarrassing. I practice it in front of a mirror and I go through everything, like my hand motions. It’s like a dance. It’s like choreography where my hands key what words come next.  I do [my steps] in front of my mirror,” Klapper said. “Sometimes I do it in front of my parents or my brother if he’s listening. And then my speech coaches during much of the time.”

Both coaches remarked on how much Klapper’s confidence grew with her drive to nail down her speech. Wade had a one-word reply regarding Klapper’s improvement, “absolutely.” It is obvious that Klapper’s confidence grew – it showed in her presentation, her speech, and her overall presence in this year’s club. 

Fellow club member Virgil Andreasen (’22) commented on Klapper’s improvement.

“Lily Klapper is doing really well. In the Lions Club, a competition I did last year, I got to a certain level [and] she’s now past that level, which is cool,” said Andreasen.

He added, “She seemed really shy at first, but obviously has gotten past that, you know, getting as far as she has!” 

Andreasen also experienced success this season. Andreasen placed 3rd in International Extemporaneous Speaking, qualifying for the State Tournament and later winning the TCFL Bernabei Award.

Andreasen and Daniel Dixon(fellow club member) pose together

He also competed in International Extemporaneous Speaking which involves speaking on topics with no preparation, memorization, or note cards. Judges give participants a topic and they are provided a half-hour to research. 

“Wikipedia [is a] really nice starting place. So I’m gonna be real. What you do is you go to Wikipedia, in order to learn about what the topic is about, and then you google your more specific questions,” Andreasen said. “After a while, it’s not so hard to understand generally what’s going on. Like once you’ve done it a few times, things start to look pretty similar.” 

After the research is completed, participants make a speech, address the prompt, and act like they are making it up on the fly. 

“Impromptu is sort of like, you start off with a brain fart, and take yourself out of it. It happens a lot and you generally just have to try to finish out the sentence and get to your next thought,” Andreasen said. “That’s why I like to have a general idea map. You have like, an idea here, an idea here, an idea here. Then after that, you just generally try to talk naturally like [presenting] a story that you already know.” 

He also competed in Congress. Congress is a team event where a mock senate proposes a law. Team members give speeches in favor or against the law. After the Congress members give their speeches, the team votes to determine whether the law gets passed. 

This was Andreasen’s last season for high school Speech and Debate, but he plans to utilize his skills and take what he has learned with him in the future.

“Impromptu is basically just getting really good at conversation skills, which is cool. Talking in front of a bunch of people is something that you do a lot in a club and is definitely going to help a lot. Because I like talking in front of people, I tend to do stuff where I [speak in front of people],” Andreasen said. “[I’ve gotten used to] presenting arguments to people that [I] don’t know, and presenting ideas and arguments to them is something you get to practice with that is also going to be helpful.” 

Speech and Debate provides useful skills that will help participants in all other aspects of their life. With many of the senior members leaving for college there are spots to fill, so if you’re interested, join Speech and Debate next year and represent AGHS!