Canyon Crest Academy Speech & Debate members groom the next generation

CCA Speech & Debate Team tutors Danny An, Alex Tahan, President Justin Liu and Andrew Peng

CCA Speech & Debate Team tutors Danny An, Alex Tahan, President Justin Liu and Andrew Peng
(Gloria Goldstein

Members of the Canyon Crest Academy Speech & Debate Team spend hours during their hectic academic week trekking over to Pacific Trails Middle School to teach the art of debate to aspiring new young minds.

The tutoring program was established shortly after PTMS opened its doors four years ago. Almost a dozen CCA Speech & Debate team members tutor the middle schoolers to help them prepare within the instructional style and core tenets of the competitive world of high school speech and debate.

Debate Team President Justin Liu explains the guiding philosophy behind the tutoring, “The first year of a student’s speech and debate career is extremely important for establishing a foundation, but the four-year limit that a high school imposes is extremely restricting and is at best used by opportunists. By building this foundation early, students can compete and learn at a higher level upon entering high school.”

Liu adds that via this program, tutors also learn a lot about communicating complex ideas in simple ways, capturing the attention of a younger audience, and testing teaching methods that can be passed down to future team leaders.

“We believe that speech and debate is one of the most rewarding activities high school students can participate in. Commencing in middle school allows the student to make well-informed decisions in high school and develop a long-term vision of who they want to become.”

Debate Team Officer Danny An says he gains great satisfaction from tutoring young minds. “I truly enjoy teaching students how to not only come out of their shells, but also how to foster their ability to reason, think and debate as they become young adults. Helping them become better logicians and observing them improve at each practice is the ultimate reward.”

He adds that the program benefits even those students who don’t have an affinity for the craft. “Public speaking is such a ubiquitous thing that the tutoring is able to help those who may not go on to compete in the art of speech and debate. However, the appeal of learning and honing this real-world skill is enough to increase interest for many which may lead to other avenues.”

Members say they aim to cultivate strong interpersonal bonds between themselves and the students by nurturing new leaders at a young age and developing an effective team dynamic before high school even begins. This way it is easier and more enjoyable for event leaders to teach their skills to incoming classes of freshmen since less time is used on foundational instruction and less energy is used to cultivate a sense of community among a group of what would otherwise consist of strangers. The students ultimately receive invaluable advice about high school and life at CCA.

When school is in session, the tutoring program takes place after school on multiple days every week dependent on school schedules. Many of the middle school students who were tutored have gone on to attend CCA as their high school of choice and have become members of the Speech & Debate Team.