Delano Union School District’s Migrant speech and debate teams show their awards at the conclusion of the ninth annual Migrant Speech and Debate Tournament held May 3-5 in Ventura. With the team are coaches Maria Zamora, left, and Martha Rojas, right, and migrant clerk Florence Torres (fifth from left).

Many Saturdays of preparation and practice have paid off for the Delano Union School District Migrant Region XIV Speech and Debate team, whose debate teams took first- and second-place in the ninth annual State Speech and Debate Tournament held May 3-5 in Ventura.

The local team has competed in this competition since its start in 2011.

“I want to congratulate our team for their exceptional showing at the tournament,” DUSD Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Rosa Montes said. “I want to especially thank all the hard work on Saturdays by coaches Martha Rojas and Maria Zamora.”

The 13 students from sixth through eighth grade come from all four DUSD middle schools. Their road to the state tournament began in early November with the first of 12 Saturdays that the students met with their coaches, DUSD migrant resource teachers Rojas and Zamora.

The debate topic this year was technology enhances classroom learning. The speech topics were the benefits of homework do not outweigh the disadvantages for most students and students in the United States should be responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of their classroom and providing support with food service.”

Students were guided during their preparations with a list of objectives including acquainting themselves with the basics of research, learning the importance of using evidence in argumentation, developing critical thinking and listening skills and reading, writing and oral expression, and to help develop confidence in public speaking.

The debate teams also worked with objectives listed prior, along with developing skills in organization, learning the importance of thoughtful and clear delivery when debating an issue and developing collaboration skills and appreciation of team work.

Both debate teams consisted of eighth grade students. Taking first-place in the English middle school debate competition was the team of Dyana Estrada and Leilani Rocha from La Viña Middle School, Menjury Miranda from Pioneer School and Jasmin Alfaro and Edna Rios from Almond Tree Middle School.

Claiming second-place, by less than one point in the Spanish middle school debate competition, was the team of Juan Hernandez of Almond Tree and Estefania Elias, Mariana Ruiz, Karla Hernandez and Stefhany Herrera from Cecil Avenue Math and Science Academy.

Those from the debate teams who were competing for a second year were Miranda, Ruiz and Herrera.

The speech competition involved students choosing one of the topics and preparing a speech. They then competed in two rounds with their prepared speech, and then two rounds of extemporaneous speeches (in which topics are distributed prior to each round). Coach Rojas stated that the extemporaneous speaking competition was tough because students have to be prepared for any topics.

Representing the district in the Speech competition was Almond Tree seventh grade student Byron Garcia and Cecil Avenue students Oscar Juarez (sixth grade) and Miguel Juarez (eighth grade).

“The experience they gain in this competition is really good for them,” Rojas said.

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