5 GCA students join Team CNMI for NSDA competition

Posted on Apr 19 2019


Grace Christian Academy’s National Speech and Debate Association regional competition winners pose for a souvenir photo after the announcing of winners at Marianas High School. (Contributed Photo)

Grace Christian Academy students won top awards at the weeklong National Speech and Debate Association regional competition, with most of them included the CNMI team that will compete at the national level in Texas.

The five GCA students—Jonathan Woong So Lee, Joshua Pajarillaga, Lanz Jabez Victoria, James Keaton, and Sumin Melody Woo—would be part of a team of 15 students from the CNMI who will compete in Dallas on June 16-21.

Lee, a 10th grader, has a lot of “firsts” in joining NSDA this school year. This is going to be Lee’s first time to compete at the nationals. In fact, this was Lee’s first time to compete in the NSDA.

The other four GCA students who will be joining Lee at the nationals have been part of CNMI teams in previous school years and have already experienced competing in the United States.

At the recent regional competition, Lee won first place in Dramatic Interpretation and first place in Original Oratory, which he will represent at the nationals.

“I am so grateful for all the support and help I received from my fellow peers, competitors, and coaches. I am so excited to compete in the [United] States [mainland]. I am so thankful for this opportunity,” he said.

Pajarillaga, a 10th grader at GCA, won first place in International Extemporaneous Speech and will represent Team CNMI in the same event at the nationals.

“I am super excited to compete at the national level once again. This year’s [regional] competition was especially tough but…this will be another opportunity to improve and learn more [and] a chance to show off how far our islands have come in speech and debate,” he said.

Victoria, who is in 11th grade at GCA, won first place in Commentary and will represent the CNMI in the same event.

“I never expected to be able to win first place, considering all the good performers in my categories,” he said.

James Alexander Keaton, who is in 9th grade, won 5th place in Impromptu Speech, which will be his main event at the nationals.

“I am extremely happy. …This is my second time competing [at] the national level. My first experience was when I was in 7th grade. I will do my best to represent the CNMI team at the national level,” he said.

Woo has been a veteran competitor at the national level, representing the CNMI in different competitions such as speech and thespian. Being a senior, this is her last year to compete in high school-level competitions. This year, she won first place in Prose Reading and will represent the CNMI in this category.

“I have been participating in speech and debate since elementary, and being a part of the nationals team again is the best way to end my NSDA participation this senior year. I am avid to start practice for Dallas,” she said.

GCA principal Beth Ann Nunez said: “We are very proud of our five GCA students.”

The NSDA encourages public and private high school students to participate in and become proficient in reading, public speaking, debate, and interpretations.

National Speech & Debate Association
(9TH-12TH Grade)

Dramatic Interpretation
Jonathan Woong Soo Lee, 1st Place
Sumin Melody Woo, 2nd Place

Original Oratory
Jonathan Woong Soo Lee, 1st Place

Lanz Jabez Victoria, 1st Place
Arvin Dayao, 3rd Place
James Alexander Keaton, 5th Place

International Extemporaneous Speech
Elijah Joshua Pajarillaga, 1st Place
Lanz Jabez Victoria, 2nd Place

United States Extemporaneous Speech
James Alexander Keaton, 4th Place
Arvin Dayao, 5th Place

Impromptu Speech
Elijah Joshua Pajarillaga, 2nd Place
James Alexander Keaton, 5th Place

Prose Reading Masters A
Sumin Melody Woo, 1st Place

Poetry Reading Masters A
Jonathan Woong Soo Lee, 3rd Place
Sumin Melody Woo, 4th Place

NSDA coach/coordinator: Grace Duran
Competition registrar: Esther Manzano
Judges: Marilyn Aldan, Sandy Howard, Elizabeth Ellis (PR)

Press Release
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