SAN GABRIEL, CA – Gabrielino High School’s speech and debate program will kick off its 2017-18 season by hosting a varsity speech invitational for the first time in the school’s 24-year history.

On Oct. 21, more than 120 Gabrielino students will exhibit their linguistic skills on their home turf against students from Alhambra High School, Arroyo High School and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy. Until now, Gabrielino High has only hosted novice or qualifier events staffed by the program’s varsity team members.

“I’m looking forward to competing at home,” Gabrielino senior Wendy Wong said. “It’s a different atmosphere being able to compete in classrooms and areas you’re familiar with.”

Gabrielino speech and debate adviser Derek Yuill said the program decided to host its own invitational as a means of providing local teams with an efficient, cost-effective means to compete against each other.

The friendly competition will include 11 speech events at both novice and varsity levels, allowing a larger number of students from each school’s team to participate than other tournaments often do.

“Speech and debate is important because it teaches so many students about teamwork, creativity, collaboration, and persistence,” Yuill said. “This invitational is our way of providing local students with an opportunity to hone their skills in the competition categories that are most beneficial to them.”

Senior and four-year team member Jannelle Dang said the competition aspect of speech and debate allows students to learn about different points of view from other students, whether they are local rivals or from across the country.

“The speech and debate program has taught me so much, including that no matter how old you are, people always have something meaningful and insightful to say,” Dang said. “Speech and debate pushes its members to go beyond what we learned in our classrooms and think about the real world.”

While Yuill focuses on student development over trophies, the program has earned its share of team and individual accolades, including a number of student grants and college scholarships. It was ranked second in the nation in 2017.

“Gabrielino’s speech and debate program has a long history of producing amazing students who excel in their academics and go on to excel in their careers,” Superintendent Dr. John Pappalardo said. “We are extremely proud of the ‘Screamin’ Eagles’ and all of their accomplishments they have amassed through the years.”