Like father, like daughter? In this case, it’s more than just an old aphorism.
Freedom Middle School student Lauren Adams’ name will be etched onto the Henry Greve Speech Competition plaque after she won the competition last week, but it won’t be the only “Adams” engraved on the trophy.
Her father, Bakersfield High School teacher Jeremy Adams – best known locally as the mastermind behind the Earl Warren Cup, a bedazzled constitutional quiz competition – won the honor in 1990.
“When I was a kid, my dad coached at Emerson Junior High, and I was brought up being told what a big deal it was,” the elder Adams said. “It’s really exciting to have my own daughter have it. I’m pretty certain we’re the only parent and child to have won it.”
The younger Adams won in a stiff competition, delivering a powerful speech about the American promise of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
“I’m shocked that I managed to win because there were so many amazing speeches,” Lauren said.
She pulled from the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” and included quotes from interviews with Assemblyman Vince Fong, Judge Michael Bush and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, for whom one of Adams’ former students works.
“She pulled out all the stops,” Adams said of his daughter.
So what did the Austrian-born bodybuilder-turned-’governator’ tell Lauren?
“From the time I was 10 years old, I knew my dreams were too big for anywhere but America,” Lauren said, reciting a portion of her speech.
But what’s more exciting than clinching the same title as her old man, Lauren said, is being the first Rosedale Union School District student to win the honor in the 61 years the Henry Greve competition has been around.
“I love Rosedale so much,” Lauren said. “I’ve never felt more loved by a district or felt more support from a district before.”
So what’s next for Lauren? A high school career in forensics, for which she seems primed? She’s not sure about that just yet, but knows one thing for certain: even though she’s not in the BHS boundary, she’ll be attending school there next year, just like her dad.
“I’m ready to become a Driller,” Lauren said.
Getting to national forensics championships is hard enough, but doing it with no team, program or coach?
Daunting as it may sound, that’s exactly what North High School senior Hunter Bishop achieved this year, despite what seemed like overwhelming odds.
She won the Southern Valley Forensics League Lincoln Douglas competition and the National Speech and Debate Association Sierra District championship this year, earning her a spot in the national competition in Birmingham, Ala., in April. But before she won any of those accolades, she had to debate to keep her program from being cut.
“We have a program that was starting to really fall apart,” Bishop said, pointing to a lack of funding and enrollment support, a growing trend among forensics programs in Kern County that have, for years, been casualties of budget cuts.
When she joined forensics her freshman year, which was a for-credit class, there were about 40 students. The next year, it lost its coach, and it turned into an after-school program. Enrollment dwindled to a dozen students her sophomore year, then four her junior year. By this year, she was the last standing member, and the club was almost cut.
“Over the summer she was concerned the team was being cut and reached out for advice and I told her to go to the principal. You’re a debater, this is what you do. Make a case for the debate team,” Angelique Ronald, president of the Southern Valley Forensics League, said she told Bishop.
So she set up a meeting with Principal Mark Balch to fight for her team, which at that point was just herself.
Bishop’s argument? Forensics lights a fire under kids and ignites passion.
“It can make kids be passionate about something,” Bishop said. “Coming from North, I’ve seen people’s lives change, especially in the low socioeconomic areas I’m from. Even without a coach and a team, I was able to make it this far because it gives you that passion and that drive.”
Balch wasn’t just agreeable, Bishop said, he was downright passionate. He made a call to Eric Osborne, an East Bakersfield High School forensics coach, and asked him to work with Bishop. Then Ronald started coaching her, too.
“When we saw we couldn’t offer it as a class this year, I saw how important it was, and I said we were going to support her 100 percent and we’re not going to put roadblocks in her way,” Balch said.
It's paid off. This month, Bishop was named Valley Champion for the Lincoln Douglas debate style, which asks students to debate the morality of policy decisions, and not just the politics.
When Balch found out that his one-woman forensics team was heading to nationals, he could hardly contain his excitement, Bishop said.
“He was probably more excited than me,” said Bishop.
And as for that forensics program at North High? The school is trying to hire a forensics coach to bring it back as a class next year, Balch said.
She’s now fundraising for her trip to nationals on GoFundMe. As of Monday, she had raised $875 of her $2,000 goal.
“The forensics community at-large stepped up,” Balch said. “But the biggest piece of this is that Hunter is just an excellent debater, so she was able to succeed even without the class on campus.”
Centennial High School’s Mock Trial Team finished 19th out of 34 teams this weekend at the state competition in Riverside.
Centennial beat Scripps Ranch High School from San Diego and Lynbrook High from San Jose before losing two rounds to Northern California high schools.
The team lost to Shasta High School, which placed second overall, and San Francisco School of the Arts, which finished third. Both were lost by less than two percentage points, CHS Mock Trial Coach Brett Dobson said.
Four of Centennial’s students were named MVPs, Dobson said. Clayton Cook, a bailiff, Kowan Miller and Sam Neuman, two witnesses, and Benjamin Nixon, a pretrial motion attorney for the prosecution, were honored.
The team is now preparing for a new case to compete in the Golden State Mock Trial Tournament held in late April.
A group of Vietnam veterans were honored Friday at Chipman Jr. High, where students raised money to sponsor one for airfare to Washington, D.C., as part of the Kern County Honor Flight.
Kern County Honor Flight is an organization that sends veterans to the nation’s capital to see the monuments erected in their honor. Veterans are not charged for the trips.
A $1,500 check was presented during an assembly to two veterans, Gene Soto and Jim Hackett, who visited the kids and shared their stories.
Fundraising efforts began in November with flag sales for Veterans Day and was met with a donation from Greenlawn Cemetery.
The Bakersfield Art Association is offering two scholarships worth $1,000 to Kern County students pursuing studies in the arts.
Applicants must provide two signed letters of recommendation from a non-relative and five examples of their art electronically. Students will be judged on their future goals in the study of fine arts.
Applications are due by April 28 to Kathy Schilling at email@example.com.