News Category: Politics
By Margaret, News Team Contributor
Extracurriculars are a fundamental aspect of the quintessential American experience. Their significance lies in the fact that they are highly capable of shaping a student’s interests and potentially even a future major or pathway! Not only are they essential parts of distinguishing a person in the all-important college admissions process, but they also serve as a platform to establish lifelong friends and meaningful relationships.
Two prominent clubs at my school, Amador Valley High, are Speech and Debate and Key Club. I had the privilege of interviewing Rachel Zhang, a junior who is the president of both and the Original Oratory captain in the former club.
Read Rachel’s Q&A-1. What is the history behind these two clubs?
Speech and Debate Club has always been one of the most popular high school extracurriculars, particularly in the Bay Area. Speech and Debate has been on Amador’s campus for much longer than I’ve been a student here. Amador students are interested in voicing their opinions on public policy, societal expectations, etc., so Speech and Debate Club seems like an obvious part of the fabric of our campus. Key Club is the largest student-run organization in the world and has planted its roots in most of the local high schools. Amador’s Key Club was started by two girls passionate about serving their community, and this fervor for service has continued ever since.
2. Why were you compelled to join them?For Speech and Debate Club, I participated in a summer program at Monte Vista the summer before my freshman year, and I immediately found a passion for public speaking. I recognized the empowerment that comes from having an audience’s attention for ten minutes and speaking about a matter that you truly care about. As a result, I felt obligated to join and enhance Amador’s speech and debate program so that other students could discover this same empowerment. I was compelled to join Key Club because I always wanted to give back but just never had the means to do so. The club provides students with those opportunities to become involved with various projects working to better their communities.
3. What are the events in Speech and Debate, and what do they entail in terms of speaking/writing style as well as procedures at competitions?
There are a lot of events in Speech and Debate, the major ones beingPublic Forum Debate, Congressional Debate, and Original OratorySpeech. The format of each one is very distinct from the others. PublicForum is a partner debate focusing around advocating or rejecting asolution to a current events issue. They typically have around 4-6preliminary rounds per tournament, whereas in Congressional Debate,the rounds are structured to model the process the U.S. Congress uses topass various bills. In Original Oratory Speech, students prepare an 8-10 minute persuasive speech on an issue in society that they feel strongly about. This type of speech also allows students to propose solutions to those issues. Speech has 3 preliminary rounds per tournament.4. Do you have any advice on how to cultivate superb leadership skills for any students wishing to take on more authoritative roles in their extracurriculars?I think any students who want to play a larger role in the leadership and management aspect of their extracurriculars–and in particular clubs–need to learn to be comfortable voicing their opinions. Often, it can be daunting for students to speak out when disagree or have differing ideas from their peers, but learning to effectively vocalize your thoughts shows people that you’re invested in your work and that you can make valuable contributions.5. How have you witnessed growth in Key and Speech and Debate for every participant as well as the club as a whole?
I’ve witnessed a lot of growth as a whole for both clubs. When I first started out with Speech and Debate Club as a freshman, we had 15 members who rarely competed at tournaments. Now, we have 60 members with around 40 competing at each tournament. Key Club always had a consistent number of members who would attend meetings and events, and this still holds true. But we’ve really grown our club’s participation on a division and district-wide level. In both clubs, I’ve been able to see real bonds form between all our members, and I often see people from the club hanging out together outside of club hours, which really warms my heart.6. Why would you suggest someone join these associations?
I would suggest someone join Speech and Debate Club to improve and expand upon your public speaking and debate skills. Speech and Debate is one of those activities that has so much to offer for everyone because it’s divided into so many different events. Whether you’re first starting out, or you’ve had extensive experience, you never stop learning in Speech and Debate Club. I would suggest people join Key Club because, again, it gives you the opportunity to serve and become more involved with your community. And the bond that Key Clubbers form by attending service events together is really unique and long-lived.7. What are your goals for the further development of these two clubs before you graduate?
I only have a little over a year left before I graduate, so my goal for these clubs over the next year is to continue our progress with recruiting new members and attending more tournaments/service events. One of my main focuses will also be to train our junior officers and make sure they’re well-prepared to carry on the legacies of these two clubs. Being a part of these clubs is great, but knowing that their experiences will continue even after you leave is even better.
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