Maranatha Speech and Debate Leaps Into State Finals on Leap Day

Maranatha High School Speech and Debate team continues to excel while senior Joel Turk earns a spot in the State Finals.
On the weekend of February 28 and 29, the Maranatha Speech and Debate team competed in the annual Speech and Debate Qualification Tournament held at East Los Angeles College for the opportunity to advance to the State Tournament on the weekend of April 24-26 at James Logan High School in northern California. The Speech competition featured seniors Yuanhua Luo, Tyler Street, Samantha Santoro, and Joel Turk; and sophomores Ximena Santoro, Samuel Tong, and Faith Ising. 

Faith Ising advanced as a semi-finalist in Original Prose and Poetry for her original dramatic interpretation of her script titled, “The Wish.”  

Sam Tong represented Maranatha in International Extemporaneous Speech using his expertise in politics to speak for 7 minutes answering a political question on international issues with only 30 minutes to prepare prior to presenting his speech.

Ximena and Samantha Santoro advanced to the finals and finished 7th overall for their Duo Interpretation. The Santoro sisters had a successful spring tournament experience having competed in the Duo Interpretation category at Stanford University and earning a trophy at this prestigious, nationally recognized tournament.

Yuanhua Luo competed in Original Oratory at Stanford and State Quals. She also competed in the Rotary Four-Way Test Speech Competition and continues to represent Maranatha in the semester-long Lions Club Speech Contest where she is advocating for solutions to L.A.’s homeless crisis.

Seniors Tyler Street and Joel Turk competed in Impromptu Speech at the State Qualifier.  Impromptu speech requires excellent public speaking skills with limited preparation time as students are required to speak flawlessly for 5 minutes on a topic for which they are only given two minutes to prepare.

In the end, Joel Turk advanced to the State Championship tournament. He earned first place in the first three preliminary rounds of State Quals, otherwise known in the tournament circuit as the picket fence win! Joel also competed at Stanford and earned a trophy at both Stanford and the California State Qualification Tournament. This will be Joel’s second opportunity to compete at the State Championships for Impromptu Speech as he also competed at State Champs last year as a junior. Joel continues to experience great success in Speech and Debate. He was recognized by the Rotary Club as one of the top speakers in the Pasadena area and automatically advanced to the third level of the Rotary Four-Way Test Speech Tournament held on Wednesday, March 11, at the University Club at Fuller Seminary.

The Maranatha Speech and Debate Team is currently preparing for the State Qualification Tournament for Public Forum and Parliamentary Debate to be held at San Marino High School on Saturday, March 7.

To learn more about the Maranatha Speech and Debate program, please contact Pat Mesisca ‘92 at