SAN GABRIEL, CA – Eight Gabrielino High School speech and debate students have received national acclaim as Academic All-Americans, a designation given by the National Speech and Debate Association to students who excel in academics and at speech and debate tournaments.

To be eligible for the award, students must earn a Superior Distinction score of more than 750 accumulated tournament points and an unweighted GPA of 3.7 or higher. Students may also qualify with a 3.5 GPA if they achieve a score of 27 on the ACT or a 1300 on the New SAT.

The eight Gabrielino seniors to receive the award – many of whom scored far beyond the award requirements – are Annabelle Cook, Jannelle Dang, Jason Tran, Leon Tran, Meng Vong and speech team co-captains Josh Raymundo, Angelina Liang and Richelle Chow.

Chow has 990 speech tournament points, which she accumulated through four years in the program.

“I like how this award recognizes students for their academic work in addition to their performances at speech and debate competitions,” Chow said. “My parents are very proud of me and so am I – it’s a major honor to be recognized.”

Chow will apply to a range of colleges, including UC Berkeley, USC, UCLA, UC Davis, and Boston University; she plans to study environmental science. She said that being a co-captain helped mold her leadership skills, which will serve her in any career field.

Gabrielino speech and debate adviser Derek Yuill said the school has produced 88 Academic All-Americans over the last 20 years.

“It’s an excellent award and it shows that our students have great discipline – because you cannot get this award without being successful both in the speech and debate program and in the classroom,” Yuill said.

Raymundo, who has earned nearly 941 tournament points, said the speech and debate program has improved his confidence and organizational skills – which also strengthened his on-campus involvement and led to him found the school’s Amnesty International Club.

“My mom was especially excited because the school put my name on the electronic announcements board in front of the school,” Raymundo said. “It’s very exciting to be honored with this award because it shows the work we all have put into our classwork and this program.”

Raymundo plans to study business in college. He is applying to UCLA, Cornell University, Santa Clara University, UC San Diego and UC Davis.

The final co-captain, Liang, has a score of 1214 tournament points and hopes to study neuroscience or psychology at Yale.

Gabrielino High’s other Academic All-Americans include:

  • Annabelle Cook, with 1198 points, who plans to attend Soka University of America
  • Jannelle Dang, with 899 points, who plans to attend UCLA
  • Jason Tran, with 1051 points, who plans to attend UC Berkeley
  • Leon Tran, with 1029 points, who plans to attend Carnegie Mellon University
  • Meng Vong, with 985 points, who plans to attend UC San Diego

After a brief celebration, Gabrielino High’s speech and debate students will compete in the Southern California Debate League’s second varsity tournament on Feb. 3 at Arcadia High School, where they will attempt to extend an undefeated league victory streak that dates back to December 1999.

“We are very proud to have so many accomplished students named Academic All-Americans this year for their excellence in education and in speech,” SGUSD Superintendent Dr. John Pappalardo said. “Gabrielino High’s speech and debate team is one of the many great programs our District offers that can provide students with valuable leadership skills.”