Kudratdeep Kaur Dhaliwal
The Imperial County Migrant Education Program will be holding its very first regional speech and debate tournament Saturday January 23rd at Southwest High School.
With this tournament the Migrant Education Program aims to help students develop skills in reading, writing and oral expression.
According to ICOE Migrant Education Services Supervisor Ramon Santana, 150 students have enlisted to participate and that number is still growing.
The tournament will include speeches from students in the 4th and 12th grades throughout the valley.
Students will learn how to engage in competitive debate by doing research and organizing their materials for good delivery.
The debate will have two sides, the affirmative position and the negative position where the former favors a proposition and the latter opposes it.
There will also be an extemporaneous speech where students will be given ten minutes to develop a speech on a topic that will be introduced that very moment.
The program is all about facing obstacles and overcoming them says Santana.
The impromptu nature of the speech will help students develop the skills and the motivation necessary to succeed in life.
“Students will see how they got through it and gave that speech,” he explains. “Overcoming one challenge will encourage them to overcome other obstacles they may face in life especially in terms of education.”
Another goal of the tournament is to create a sense of belonging amongst the students through school spirit.
This will be achieved through the shirts the students will wear on the day of the tournament.
The color of shirt is based on the respective color of the school the student comes from.
Resonating with the overall tournament theme that ‘everyone is a winner so long as they try’, all participants will receive a plaque and a trophy.
The Migrant Education Program has been a beacon of hope in the lives of many migrant families who face obstacles in education due to their transient life-style.
“One day a family can be here and the next they might have to move,” says Santana. “And as a result the child’s education may suffer.”
The Migrant Education Program strives to provide the tools that these students may need to succeed.
The Program assesses each student and tailors its services to meet those needs.
The message the program hopes to convey is that while a person’s circumstances may not be in their hands their prospective future is in their hands.
Other services under the program include the Path to Scholarship Program which helps students write and submit scholarship materials and PASS a Portable Assistance Study Sequence Program.
PASS gives students the chance to make up credit deficiencies they may face which prevent them from graduating high school.
Cyber-High, an online high school is also offered under the program.
Having come a long way since its humble beginnings, the Imperial Valley Migrant Education Program continues to expand its services based on the emerging needs of the migrant population.
The Speech and Debate Tournament is only its latest addition.