This past Friday and Saturday, the CHAMPS Panthers got off to a bumpy start, with the valley bus that was to pick them up along with Valor Academy and East Valley High, arriving an hour late, but they managed to have a victorious evening. One of the competitors was nauseated and had to excuse herself in the middle of the debate, then came back to win the round. That same debater, Celeste Gonzalez would come back the next day with her partner, Destiny Gomez to win the tournament in our division. Later that evening Ayanna Berg was doing her makeup and putting on her prom dress so she could attend prom. Her partner, Zachary Cruz won the Best Individual Speaker Award, competed and won the last round on his own, night.
The next day, two of the brand new debaters, Abigail Esquivel and Genna Weinstein, each won two debates of the four they were engaged in, while Ayanna and Zach were competing with an originality and style that made everyone in the league stand up and take notice. Their leader, Mr. Ciampa, was overjoyed when they went to the finals, then overwhelmed when he realized they would be facing CHAMPS' very own Celeste and Destiny in the championship round!
With over 30 schools in attendance, the competition was stiff but the panthers finally won a tournament in their division, which also happened to be the City Championship! Ayanna Berg won The #1 Best Individual Speaker in their division - Rookie of the Year for the entire league, and Celeste Gonzalez and Destiny Gomez won The Novice Division U.S.C. City Championship.
In some ways, this division is the most rigorous because of the massive evidence set by competitors to use and the strict adherence to protocol that is required.
Next year, most of our debaters will be competing in the Open Varsity Division, where they may garner college scholarships and national recognition, but win or lose, the CHAMPS young debaters are beginning to understand what they can achieve with perseverance and a disciplined mind.