The 2015 SVUDL Season Opener at San Jose State University was a stunning example of how brilliant our youth are here in Silicon Valley. All five of our SVUDL schools represented that day: Silver Creek High School, Oak Grove High School, Overfelt High School, Eastside College Preparatory School, and East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy. Before starting their first round, the debaters were prepared with words of encouragement and voice exercises for the big day ahead. The competition was fierce, but each school debated with passion. From round to round, SVUDL debaters impressed our esteemed volunteer judges, which included attorneys from HP and Google, professors from around the Bay, and critically acclaimed college debaters.
To help break up the day, the tournament featured “Two Minutes of Fame”. In this impromptu talent show, debaters are challenged to capture their audience’s attention for 120 seconds. It gave debaters an opportunity to think quickly on their feet and showcase their creative talents not always seen in debate rounds. Students belted out familiar tunes, led interactive games, and displayed offbeat talents like whistling and dance choreography. Students were also treated to guest speaker, Laina Greene, a global level social impact investor. She spoke about her experience in debate: how it prepared her for a successful career and helped shaped who she is today.
As the day in debate came to a close, the floor opened for SVUDL’s very first legal mentor pairings. Through this program, SVUDL and Silicon Valley lawyers will begin to establish the foundation in building a long term relationship with juniors and seniors interested in a legal career. Each student will be paired up with an attorney, who will provide mentorship, professional coaching, and assistance to overcome obstacles and navigate a path to law school.
The 2015 SVUDL Season Opener was a tremendous success in introducing novices to the world of debate and re-invigorating students from SVUDL’s first pilot year. We have a special note of acknowledgment to one SVUDL’s new schools, Silver Creek, who had the honor of receiving the inaugural spirit trophy. The start of a new tradition, this award will be passed on to the most spirited and invigorating team each tournament. The standing Spirit Award Champs will nominate and pass the wheel on to another school in the league. There are so many to thank for this successful season opener and this day would not have been possible without the support of our unsung heroes for the day – the volunteers. They came through in leaps and bounds to make sure our debaters had a positive experience for our first season debate.This was a wonderful start to our season and we look forward to an even bigger turnout for the Pumpkin Classic at East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy, hosted by the wonderful principal Elisha Jackson on November 14, 2015.