Helix speech and debate team starts season off with a bang at the Jack Howe Memorial Tournament


From September 21st to the 22nd, hoards of sleep-deprived high schoolers dressed in suits swarmed Cal State Long Beach’s campus and began feverishly talking to the walls at 8 in the morning, preparing for the intense competition that was to come. A few rush to the food court to replenish their much-needed energy, while others simply procrastinate the well-known ritual of going “to the wall” as they wait for rounds to begin.

This is no cult (although you could describe it as such), this is the scene of the Jack Howe Memorial Tournament for speech and debate.

Helix Charter’s own speech and debate team had the privilege of competing at this tournament, and the long drive from La Mesa warranted the team staying overnight at the nearby Hilton hotel in between competition days.

“I would say that the hotel room promotes team bonding by allowing people of different experience levels…to come together and interact,” says Jackie Hammack, a Helix competitor who participates in both speech and debate events. “A senior might be put in the same room as a freshman, which allows them to impart their knowledge on the less experienced.”

Cal State Long Beach, unlike the typical high school campus that league tournaments are held at, offered a variety of food and entertainment options for speakers while they waited for three hours in between speech or debate rounds. Some of these options included Panda Express, The Beach Walk, OPA! Greek, Hibachi San, and Squeeze Me.

“The CSU Long Beach campus is way bigger than all of the other campuses that we’ve had to compete at, so that makes it kind of hard to get to rounds when…you’re in two events,” says William Harris, another Helix speaker who competed at Jack Howe. “The food on campus was really cool. Also the squirrels. That should be noted.”

The nearby Nugget and Grill Pub also allowed for speakers to relax and snatch a few minutes of the current football season or play pool. Of course, the speakers were not allowed to purchase alcohol.


The tournament overall was an impressive start for the Helix Speech and Debate team. There were numerous successes for both the Varsity and Novice speakers.

In the Varsity division, the team took a series of wins:

Eva Anderson – 1st in Oratorical Interpretation

Owen Dahlkamp – 2nd in Program Oral Interpretation

Jackie Hammack – Semis in Duo Interpretation

Will Harris – 1st in Original Prose Poetry

Avery Mancuso – Semis in Duo Interpretation

Lucas Osborn – Semis in Student Congress

Grace Roche – 6th in Dramatic Interpretation

The novices of the speech team also had some success:

Ruby Anderson – 1st in Dramatic Interpretation

Kayla Lizaola – 1st in Oratorical Interpretation

Simonei Medina – 1st in Original Advocacy

Jessie Murphin – 6th in Oratorical Interpretation


“I’m very pleased. Obviously [with] that first invitational of the year, my biggest concern is that everyone learned from the experience, gets more excited about the season. On top of that, however, we did very well competitively,” says Greg Osborn, coach of the Helix speech and debate team.

The Helix Speech and Debate team is currently preparing for the upcoming League #1B debate tournament and League #1C speech tournament.