Arguably the best


Jeremiah Cha '15 at a University of Southern California tournament in 2012. Photo from Chaminade Speech & Debate Society archives.

Jeremiah Cha ’15, who with partner Leo Kim ’15 are No. 3 in the state in policy debate, at a USC college invitational tournament in 2012. Photo from Chaminade Speech & Debate Society archives, provided by CSDS March 2015.

By Talon Contributor Bobby Lebeda, ‘Nade Speech & Debate Head Coach

A lucky 13 Chaminade Speech & Debate Society team members will compete April 17-19 at the California state championships in Murrieta, with most of the tournament-bound students seniors who grew up with the program.

“Our league, the Tri-County Forensic League, has the most school members, including giant public schools, of any in California, meaning that it was very difficult to qualify this many students to the state championship,” said CSDS Head Coach Bobby Lebeda, who’s finishing his undergrad studies in cinema and television arts at Cal State Northridge. “We have an experienced senior group going.”

The seniors going include national champion in Impromptu Speaking, Michael Everett. Even though it’s his third year competing in the state championships, it’s his first time competing in the Original Prose and Poetry category with a speech he wrote, “Alexei Unbound,” which is a modern take on Percy Bysshe Shelley’s  “Prometheus Unbound.” Prometheus Bound is a Greek tragedy. He’s also competing with teammate Jeremy Marsh ’16 as the Tri-County Forensic League’s No. 1-seeded Parliamentary Debate team, Coach Lebeda said.

“In Michael’s speech, we follow early 20th-century Russian chemist Alexei as he watches his chemical compound discovery, which he intended to use to increase growth of vegetable and other plant life, being turned into a weapon to execute prisoners of war,” he added.

Then there’s published author Ashlee Macalino, who’s competing in her second state championship tournament in Policy Debate, but only for the first time in Original Oratory with a speech called, “The F Word.” Don’t worry, the f-word is Feminism. “Ashlee’s moving speech looks to redefine how society now looks at feminism,” the head coach says.

Both Michael and Miss Macalino are CSDS leaders and both are considered Academic All-Americans by the national high school speech and debate governing body due to their excellent Grade Point Averages and their participation in tournaments, Coach Lebeda said.

Michael Everett also is considered an All-State competitor, meaning he has earned numerous National Speech and Debate Association points due to his first-place winnings in local and national tourneys. He also achieved a first-ever feat, qualifying for the state championship by scoring first place on all judges’ cards.

Rounding out our senior contingent: CSDS President Axel Sarkissian and CSDS officer and Talon editor-in-chief Shreya Yepuri. Both are competing in Extemporaneous Speaking on international topics. It’s both their second year going to the state championships, but Miss Yepuri’s first in extemporaneous speaking. Then there’s the veteran Policy Debate team of Leo Kim (second state championship tourney) and Jeremiah Cha (fourth state championship tourney) and Arbel Illya, who is in his second state championship tournament as well. Both Cha and Kim also are considered All-State competitors.

Arbell Illya and Ashlee Macalino are going into the state championships April 17-19 at Vista Murrieta High School ranked No. 1 in the Tri-County Forensic League in Policy Debate. Ranked No. 2 are ninth-graders Caroline Cha and Claire Rider. Yes, Caroline is Jeremiah’s sister and Claire is John Rider’s sister, said Coach Lebeda. John Rider ‘16 is ranked No. 2 in Lincoln Douglas Debate and it will be his first time competing in that category in the state championships. Sophomore Dylan Ames and Spencer Levitt ’16 also are competing as a Policy team.

Chaminade CP, as we’re known, a relatively small-enrollment league school compared with other giant public schools such as Granada Hills Charter H.S., qualified the most debaters of anyone from Tri-County Forensics, Coach Lebeda said.

Even though they’re not going to Murrieta, juniors Emilio Rivera and Bhaskar Suri competed in what’s called the Tournament of Champions circuit in Lincoln Douglas Debate. Both were successful and have been invited to the prestigious National Debate Coaches Association Championships April 11-13 in Las Vegas. They are the first-ever Chaminade Speech and Debate Society members to ever qualify to compete in the nationwide contest.