Gabrielino High School

Three freshmen Screamin’ Eagles qualify for State in speech and debate

Bianca Lua

Confident. Natural. Stunning.

These are only some of the key characteristics attributed to freshmen Bianca Lua when she performs her speech “Prissy Thomas” during tournaments. Entered in Dramatic Interpretation, Lua captivates her audiences with her stage presence and ability to portray realistic emotions.

In her speech, Lua depicts the story of a girl who faces the challenge of losing her best friend and a compassionate mother who must deal with the outcome. Through this, she shows her audiences that traumatic experiences can often play tricks on one’s psyche as nothing is what it seems.

“The hardest thing for me is being able to connect with my characters,” said Lua. “I have to make sure I’m personally impacted by my speech or else my audience will not be either.”

With this in mind, Lua enters every tournament with a positive mindset, reminding herself that improving and developing her characters is more important than winning. She gains motivation from the varsity members on the team who have helped her take steps in perfecting her speech.

This year, Lua is one of three freshmen on the Screamin’ Eagles Speech and Debate Team to qualify for the State Championship tournament.

“Qualifying to State as a freshman is a huge accomplishment in itself, but Bianca qualified in [Dramatic Interpretation], one of the most competitive events in our league,” stated Samira Husein, one of Gabrielino’s coaches. “That speaks volumes about her talent.”

Eric Zhang

Competing in Oratorical Interpretation, freshman Eric Zhang surprised everyone on the team when he qualified for the State Championships set to be held this weekend.

“I’m a very shy person when I’m not confident in what I’m saying, which made Speech and Debate hard for me in the beginning,” said Zhang. “I finally started to enjoy performing when I stopped thinking about what others thought about me.”

Zhang’s year began with a rough start as it took him seven attempts before he was declared performance ready by his event leaders a week from the first tournament of the school year. His efforts paid off, however, as he has made tremendous progress in developing his speaking abilities.

“Eric was able to qualify for the [State Championship tournament] because of his dedication and work ethic,” stated senior event leader, Kaylin Tran. “I hope one day he will believe in himself as much as I believe in him.”

As the varsity member who has worked with Zhang the most, Tran cannot be prouder of how much Zhang has grown. Zhang appreciates her sentiments as he cited her as the main reason why he has the motivation to practice.

At the State Championships, Zhang hopes to have fun and learn from watching his competitors perform. This will be the last time he can ever perform his current speech, so he wants to give his final performance his all.

Chloe Morales

Freshman Chloe Morales began her Speech career as a novice in the beginning speech class at Gabrielino High School. As the school year comes to a close, Morales transitions into advanced speech as one of the 26 students who qualified for the State Championships.  

Qualifying in Humorous Interpretation, Morales showcases the tale of Fred, a customer at a grocery store who encounters difficult cashiers when he attempts to check out 10 items in an express lane that only accepts nine. She garners laughter from her audience when she displays the shenanigans that ensue.

“Being in [Humorous Interpretation] requires a lot of dedication and courage. [Chloe] plays a character who literally dances every time he talks,” stated fellow speech member, Matt Wong, senior. “The key reason she qualified is because she is willing to do anything.”

At the State tournament, Morales plans to make the most of her experience by performing what she believes to be the best version of her speech. She hopes draw her spectators into her performance so they can feel the same amount of joy she feels on the stage.

“It’s crazy to think about how far I’ve gotten by trying my best and having fun,” said Morales. “I want to show everyone at State what I’ve been working on this whole year and make them laugh in the process.”