Maranatha High School Speech and Debate Makes Huge Strides

The Maranatha Speech and Debate Team has been working hard this fall and experienced the fruits of their labor at the 5th Annual Schurr Fall Classic Speech and Debate Tournament on October 29 and 30. Maranatha sent 30 students to compete in a two-day tournament and came home victorious in the end!

Saturday featured senior Gabe Espana competing in Impromptu and sophomore Ben Smith competing in Humorous Interpretation. Sophomore Nicole Slessor performed a Dramatic Interpretation and freshman Wallis Parks presented an Oratory on gun control. Sophomore Joseph Brumfield also performed an oratory speech. Sunday featured 25 debaters representing Maranatha High School. Of the 25 debaters, senior Cameron Chen, a past award winner, represented Maranatha in Lincoln Douglas-style debate along with senior Jonathan Minassian, junior Mitchell Yeh, sophomores Matthew Rutzen, Jacob Henderson, and Nicole Slessor, and freshman Sanjeev Nachiappan.

Juniors Natalie Azar and Daniella Shishoian represented Maranatha in Parliamentary-style debate. Parliamentary is an impromptu-style team debate and competitors only have 30 minutes to prepare their cases. Maranatha began competing in this style of debate last spring and the team of Azar and Shishoian advanced as semi-finalists in this new category!

Public Forum debate, another team-style debate, featured Matthew Harrington and Deven Hollimon, Joseph Brumfield and Alex Cornwell, Gabe Espana and Joel Lee, Jake Anderson and Max Blessinger, Hunter McCoy and Kaitlyn Kazazian, Tara Takenaka and Katie Zappia, Anna Boyadjian and Thomas Holmes, and Michael Wilkins and Richard Witherspoon. In the end, Matthew Harrington and Deven Hollimon (pictured above right side) won the second place trophy for Public Forum debate.

Speech & Debate Coach Pat Mesisca ’92 remarked, “I am so proud of the team this year! There are a lot of activities and events at Maranatha that compete for our students’ time and energy, so to see them invest in Speech & Debate to a level that earns awards every year is a great encouragement to me as a coach, and a great testimony to the work ethic and dedication of our students.”

The Maranatha Speech & Debate Team is currently preparing for the Southern California Debate League Tournaments on November 18 and 19 at Schurr High School (debate only) and December 10 at Arcadia High School (speech only) to wrap up the fall semester season.

Maranatha High School, 169 S. St. John Avenue, Pasadena, (626) 817-4000 or visit




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