The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Speech team competes at nationals

Speech team members pose together at an escape room during the weekend of the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Phoenix, Arizona. Printed with permission of Sarina Wang.

Five members of the speech team competed in the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Phoenix from June 11 to June 16. Co-president Nilufur Mistry Sheasby ’24 ranked 18 out of 300 in International Extemporaneous Speaking.

Mistry Sheasby said her event involves speaking on pressing international issues.

“I do international extemporaneous speaking, which I love,” Mistry Sheasby said. “I get questions about anything related to a country that isn’t the United States, usually about climate, public health economics or foreign policy. The questions are usually based on current events, and then I get 30 minutes to write and memorize a seven minute speech to deliver.”

At the tournament, Mistry Sheasby said her role was both to lead her teammates and compete against other schools.

“As the co-president of the speech team, my role at the national tournament was twofold, both as a competitor and a leader,” Mistry Sheasby said. “It was my job to help other people on a team practice their events, boost their morale, make sure that everyone’s getting on to their rounds on time and know how to navigate the campuses that we’re on.”

Other members competed in Duo Interpretation, Informative Speaking, Storytelling and Prose and Poetry. The team all practiced and travelled together despite competing in different formats.

Competitor William Lin ’26 said he enjoyed both spending time with his team and competing against opponents from all around the country.

“This was my first year of doing Speech so the fact that I even qualified for Nationals was unbelievable,” Lin said. “Competing with different students from all over the U.S. was definitely a new and exciting experience. I learned so much just from one tournament. Another memorable part was the time I spent with the team. We all had a great dynamic and enjoyed each other’s company.”

Lin said having confidence and motivation behind his work allowed him to succeed.

“Something that helped my duo partner and I get through our anxiety was believing in our piece and our performance,” Lin said. “Something that really drove me through the tournament and helped me overcome any mental challenge was telling myself that I can and I will. The team was also very motivating and supportive [of] each other, which helped [everyone] overcome their worries.”

Debate Teacher and Speech Coach Sarina Wang said she felt proud watching a student compete in the top eight .

“One of my most memorable experiences would be watching one of my students compete in their quarterfinal round,” Wang said. “It was fun seeing all their hard work pay off, and I was especially proud of how far this student had come.”

Wang said she loves seeing students build their self-expression through speech.

“My favorite part about coaching is being able to see students grow in their confidence,” Wang said. “Public speaking can be a terrifying activity, but it’s a powerful and transforming one too. My hope is for all of my students to walk away feeling empowered.”

Mistry Sheasby said she enjoys building team morale during practices and tournaments.

“I feel like the reason why I say [the speech team] is so community-based is that even though most speeches are done individually, we watch all of each other’s events,” Mistry Sheasby said. “We’ll give our speeches for each other, have dinner together and play games together, so it’s very much like a win-win.”

Practices for the speech team are after school Fridays.

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William Liu, Assistant Opinion Editor

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