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Last updateTue, 23 Jul 2019 12am







    Monday, July 22, 2019-7:51:05P.M.






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5 GCA students on NMI’s speech and debate team

(Press Release) — Grace Christian Academy’s students won top awards in the National Speech and Debate Association’s week-long regional competition.

Their hard work paid off as most of them are included on the CNMI team. The five GCA students are part of a team of 15 students from the CNMI who will compete at the national level in Dallas, Texas on June 16-21.

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GCA NSDA competitors pose for a souvenir photo after the competition. Louis Zheng and Na Lee Lee are not in  the photo.
GCA NSDA winners pose for a souvenir photo after the announcing of winners at Marianas High School.  GCA photos

Beth Ann Nunez, GCA principal said, “We are very proud of our five GCA students who will be representing the CNMI at the national level of NSDA competition in Dallas, Texas this summer! Congratulations to Jonathan Lee, Joshua Pajarillaga, Jabez Victoria, James Keaton, and Melody Woo!”

Jonathan Woong So Lee, GCA 10th grader, has a lot of “firsts” experience in joining NSDA this school year. He said, “This is my first year joining NSDA.” Among the five GCA students who are already a part of CNMI team in the previous school years and competed in the States, this is Lee’s first time to compete in nationals. He won first place in Dramatic Interpretation and first place in Original Oratory, which he chose to represent. “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 states! I am so thankful for this opportunity,” he added.

Elijah Joshua Pajarillaga, GCA 10th grade, won first place in International Extemporaneous Speech and will represent Team CNMI in the same event. He said, “I am super excited to compete on the national level once again. This year’s competition was especially tough, but by focusing on doing my best for my school and for God, I was able to place and make it to the national team. This will be another opportunity to improve and learn more, but it will also be a chance to show off how far our islands have come in speech and debate.”

Lanz Jabez Victoria, GCA 11th grade, won first place in Commentary and will represent the CNMI in the same event. He said that after competing in the national competition previously, “I never expected to be able to win first place, especially considering all the good performers in my categories. Therefore, I give all the glory to God for my victory.”

James Alexander Keaton, 9th grade, won 5th place in Impromptu Speech will have it as his main event in the national competition. He said, “I am extremely happy that I will be joining the CNMI team to compete in Dallas, Texas this coming June. This is my 2nd time competing in the national level, my first experience was when I was in 7th grade. I will do my best to represent the CNMI team in the national level.”

Melody Sumin Woo has been a veteran competitor competing in the national level in different competitions such as speech and thespian. Being a senior, this is her last year to compete in high school level competitions. She won first place in Prose Reading and will represent CNMI as her main event. Woo said, “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!

The National Speech and Debate Association encourages public and private high school students to participate in and become proficient in reading, public speaking, debate, and interpretations.

The GCA community would like to thank especially the GCA competitors for doing the best they can in accomplishing their goals and to all the parents, volunteer judges, and coaches for their support and all the help they have given in this competition. Below is the complete list of winners.

NSDA (9th-12th grades)

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: Miss Grace Duran

Competition Registrar: Mrs. Esther Manzano

Judges: Mrs. Marilyn Aldan, Mrs. Sandy Howard, Miss Elizabeth Ellis