Speech and Debate: Building Bonds, Skills and Confidence


Photo by Azeneth Rocha Coronel

Coach Kwodwo Moore from Silicon Valley Urban Debate League advises a Speech and Debate Club team on preparing arguments.

The Speech and Debate team has jumped into a long season full of competitions, setting its sights on a tremendous goal.

“I want to win First Place at the SVUDL championship,” said Speech and Debate coach Kwodwo Moore. “I want Eastside students to get First Place so we can make a name and get a trophy.”

Every argument has two opposing sides and there is not always a clear solution to a problem on which there are many perspectives.

In Debate, students present arguments for or against a resolution that they are given at the start of the year. At competitions, the teams present in front of judges and the goal is to convince the judges that their argument is superior to that of their opponents. This year’s resolution concerns whether the federal or state governments should control fracking, which is a drilling method for finding oil.

Many students find Speech and Debate as a learning experience.

“It’s a fun experience, where we all collaborate and we all become sort of closer,” said junior Jocelyn Guzman, “and it’s a really safe space to just say what you’re thinking and get ideas out.”

Speech and debate has been part of Eastside’s clubs since 2015 but was suspended in 2018 when it ended its previous partnership with CFL. Since 2020, the club revived in partnership with SVUDL, or Silicon Valley Urban Debate League, a nonprofit organization whose mission aligns with Eastside.

Speech and Debate currently has only five members. Members hope to expand the club for more students starting in January.

Freshman Angelica Pagga describes the club as a place where she can be herself.

“Speech and Debate has really developed who I am as a person,” she said. “I talk much better in class and I feel much more comfortable.”

Government and Economics teacher Jaya Subramanian said students develop more confidence and resilience through participating in the club.

“Students just become better leaders, because debate is very demanding,” Jaya said. “The other part in terms of the growth in students is just saying, ‘Oh, now I can take something that is complicated and figure this out.’”

Kwodwo added that Debate develops skills that can be helpful in future life.

“While debate isn’t so much about learning how to advocate for yourself, it is about learning how to speak clearly, how to think critically and how to formulate a good argument,” he said. “It can help prepare them to do things that they’re going to have to do to be successful in life.”

The Speech and Debate team invites people to join who are interested. For more information about joining the Speech and Debate team, email Jaya at [email protected].