Speech team competes at Nationals in virtual tournament

Senior Luna makes Academic All-American

Julianna Martinez, Staff Reporter

Although many school activities have been  cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19,  the National Speech & Debate Association is continuing their tournaments virtually via Zoom, the same app many schools use to communicate with their students. Bishop Noll’s speech team, which has sent members to the State championship in the past, will be sending four members to compete in Nationals in June. Kevin Burgun is Bishop Noll’s mentor and leader of Bishop Noll speech team and is both excited and uncertain about the new format for the tournament“[It] definitely won’t be the same atmosphere, so it will require more effort to make sure we are present in the opportunity,” he said. “It’s just like attending Zoom classes, so it’s not the same feeling. It’s easier to sort of feel like it’s “not real”. So, that will be our focus.”

Even though the tournament will not be held physically that doesn’t mean it will stop the students and faculty from receiving awards.

“Well, there will be a virtual awards ceremony, andthen they will just mail awards to recipients. We are keeping our fingers crossed that Mrs. Pastrick wins Administrator of the Year honors. She is one of several nominated,” Burgun said.

Bishop Noll’s senior Angela Luna has made many accomplishments academically over the past 4 years. But she has also received much recognition this year from the National Speech Team. Luna was awarded an “Academic All-American”.

“It was a goal she set as a freshman, and  to achieve such an ambitious goal is pretty impressive. We’ve never had one before, but I hope we have a couple more next year,” said Burgun.

Luna has accomplished a lot during her years on the speech team, and making Academic All-American was one of her goals since her first year on the team.

“My freshman year, I joined the speech team and I found success within the club and organization. Midway through the season, I sat down with Mr. Burgun regarding my speech goals. He mentioned “Academic All-American” and I said it would be cool if I did it. It was a goal I had. However, this year I missed a lot of tournaments and our season was cut short, I didn’t think that I would reach the goal,” Luna said.

“Through the tournaments that I attended, my hard work form previous seasons, and with Mr. Burgun’s help and mentoring I was able to accomplish it. It was the best way to end high school Speech and Debate and something I will always remember,” she said.

As a senior, this would have been Luna’s last time competing for Noll’s speech team. “It’s definitely weird. I competed in a virtual tournament a couple weeks ago and it just doesn’t seem the same. It is also scary because technical difficulties could affect how you speak and how yoru speech goes. There is a bigger chance of messing up and it’s scary,” Luna said.

Angela is competing in several different areas for this tournament.

“I am competing in the Big Questions Debate. Speakers grapple with complex worldview questions and debate both sides of the 2019-2020 resolution. Big Questions is designed to enhance students’ debate experiences, open their minds and encourage them to engage in life discussion that may not align with their previously held beliefs. However, within nationals there are Supplemental Events which students compete in: I will be competing in Prepared Prompt (which is like Impromptu) and Prepared Commentary (which is like International and National Extemp.)”

Junior Jackie Vasquez  has also received a lot of attention this year from the National Speech Team. In the national tournament, she will be competing in four different events, one of which–World Schools Debate–is a team event with juniors Abbie Kawalec, Ruby Meza, and Kailyn Greene. She will also be competing in Expository Speaking, Prepared Prompt Speaking, and Prepared Commentary.

Jackie, along with many other members have put a lot of time, dedication and effort into this competitive club, but the virtual tournament will be a completely different playing field for theml.

“I would say it’s hard to like or dislike it because I’ve barely competed in a virtual tournament. However, it’s a little sad that we won’t get the full experience of travelling and meeting people from across the country. I’m also a little nervous to see how it’ll work out because virtual tournaments like any tournament have the chance for mishaps so we’ll see how it goes!” Vazquez said. “Either way I’m still happy to be competing.”