More than 150 people packed into the Page Multi-Purpose Room Feb. 19 for the culmination of the month-long Tournament of Expressions: Finals in Debate, Great Speeches and Persuasive Speeches. The competition was started in 1996 through the generosity of Montecito residents Robert and Jean Svoboda to further the study and development of critical thinking in oral communication. Each year the Svobodas dole out thousands of dollars to the student finalists.
Sophomore Felix Huang walked away the big winner, capturing the Great Speeches and Persuasive Speeches titles. His Great Speech was taken from William Wilberforce’s 1789 abolition speech and his Persuasive Speech was an argument for Taiwan’s entry in the United Nations. Senior Jon Walton won the debate competition, arguing about the human responsibility to prevent the extinction of species.
The competition is divided into two parts, one focused on speeches and the other on impromptu debate. Contestants in the debate are given a choice of two different topics. After five minutes of preparation, each contestant has a total of 10 minutes to elaborate on the chosen topic with the time broken up for arguments and rebuttals between the two contestants.