Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 18, Issue 4. Friday, Dec. 12, 2014.
Reason for publication: This story served as a profile of the Speech and Debate team.
While surprisingly not one of the more audibly spoken about teams on the Granite Bay campus, GBHS’ Speech and Debate team proves their worth in each and every one of their competitions. Well into their 2015 season, the Speech and Debate team has already displayed their excellency and craftsmanship with novice members already claiming trophies for first place.
The Speech and Debate season is unique in that it does not have a specific start and end date. Their season starts in September and ends around April. During the first semester, the students mainly focus on preparation and learning the ropes of both the Speech and Debate aspects.
“After December we focus on the qualifying tournaments,” third year Speech and Debate and CP English 12 teacher Bob Prichard said. “Everything up to that point has been preliminarily, its been practice. In February we have our first qualifying tournaments and that goes through March and April, and in April we have the State tournament and National tournament.”
This year the Speech and Debate team has acquired more novice members than usually join. This also means that the team is growing.
“We have over 20 first-year competitors, our team is about 44 competitors so almost half of our team is very new.” Prichard said. “We’re having a really good year where we’re teaching a lot of new people a lot of new stuff.”
One of such novice members is Rishi Somanchi, a freshman at Granite Bay High School. Somanchi participates in Lincoln-Douglas debate, a form of debate which focuses on a central topic. This year the topic is organ procurement, or organ donation.
“For Lincoln Douglas we continue the same topic (for the whole) Speech and Debate year, and we get really knowledgeable about the topic.” Somanchi said. “I, so far in the three tournaments I’ve gone to, have won first place.”
While Somanchi is new to the Speech and Debate team, his brother, Vinny Somanchi, is one of four captains who help coach the team. All four are seniors who include Sumana Kaluvai, Maadhav Shah, Ashna Shah and Vinny Somanchi.
“They are all phenomenal in their own ways,” junior and member of the Speech and Debate team Sonia Garcha said. “They all have their own strengths and when you put them together they are like a dream team.”
Prichard also said that each captain inhibits talents in their own right and are so far doing a fantastic job of running the team.
“I honestly feel so fortunate to be the captain,” senior and Speech and Debate captain Vinny Somanchi said. “Reaching the level of captainship … symbolizes the culmination of a lot of work and it feels good to be behind the scenes of work when our team and my friends are succeeding.”
This is the third year teaching the Speech and Debate class for Mr. Prichard, who took over the position from his mother, Mrs. Prichard, after her retirement. What made the change a smooth transition was Prichard’s level of commitment equal to his predecessor’s.
“What really helped is that I was willing to keep the same schedule (and) have the same level of commitment.” Prichard said. “It’s really challenging, it’s probably the hardest class I teach and I enjoy it very much but it takes a certain amount of temperament and a certain amount of commitment.”
Although Mr. Prichard is still a fairly new teacher, his students have taken a liking to him and his teaching style. According to Vinny Somanchi, Mr. Prichard is a great help to their success because of his combined previous and his own previous debate experience.
Because the fall semester is meant solely for practice, competitors who engage in Speech and Debate year-round are able to compete for trophies and titles during their spring semester and have the ability to qualify for both the State and National tournament. Granite Bay High School’s biggest competition is Woodcreek and Mira Loma, Prichard said.
“The one thing I’m looking forward to is improving a lot of my speech and debate,” Sonia Garcha said. “I’m … looking forward to this season because we’ve seen a lot of people who’ve done really well. I’m (also) looking forward to getting more trophies and becoming more intelligent.”