Weekly roundup: Santa Ana High School team earns top honors at national speech and debate tournament; new state guidance for K-12 schools; and more

A team from Santa Ana High recently won the national championship at a highly-competitive national speech and debate tournament. In what the team is calling a “victory for Santa Ana,” the win marks the first time the district has ever brought home national honors at this event.

Santa Ana High School Speech and Debate team

The tournament, which is hosted annually by the National Speech and Debate Association, was held completely online this year, but that did not stop the five-member team from earning top marks in multiple categories.

According to the Orange County Register, the team’s co-captain, Gillian Palacios, placed fourth in the nation in the original oratory category, and her teammate, Destiny Ceja, placed fourth in dramatic interpretation.

“It’s not about winning or getting a title,” Ceja told the Register. “All of that is amazing. But I went into that round thinking ‘This is a platform where I’m going to share my community’s story.’”

In addition to the two fourth place winners, Santa Ana High was recognized as a “Speech School of Excellence” — one of 20 nationwide — after all its students’ results were combined.

Other finalists from Orange County included Molly Cooper of Ladera Vista Junior High in the Fullerton School District who was the only finalist to place in both the informative and prose categories. Additionally, two middle schools from the Fullerton — Parks Junior High and Robert C. Fisler — Sierra Preparatory Academy in the Santa Ana Unified School District also won National School of Excellence awards.

And here are some of the other stories we are following this week:

  • New K-12 schools guidance released by the California Department of Public Health says the state will continue to prioritize mask wearing for all teachers and students while indoors, but will not recommend physical distancing due to the barriers it would present to in-person instruction.
  • In celebration of National Summer Learning Week — which takes place July 12 through 16 — local educators shared tips to keep kids academically engaged this summer and make the transition back to school a little easier.

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