Vela Middle School Speech Team wins virtual national tournament

by: Joe De Leon


Spring activities such as performances and competitions around the world came to a halt due to COVID-19. That did not stop HCISD schools from competing and placing top scores in the MASQ and MASQ Jr. tournaments, held virtually late last month. Competing against over 700 students from speech, drama, and debate teams around the nation, Vela Middle School took first place in the MASQ Jr. (3rd and 8th) and Harlingen High School earned second place in MASQ (9th-12th).


Demond Wilson, founder of The Perfect Performance, made the decision to transition the events into virtual tournaments that would still allow students to compete individually and as teams.


“Competition seasons just ended for a lot of kids,” Wilson said.  “Some of these students had qualified for state and national meets that they didn’t get to attend. I wanted to still give them an opportunity to gain feedback from judges in a competition-like setting, and to have their school year-end on a positive note rather than a negative one.”


Over 200 judges received video submissions from 700 participants representing 45 states. Joseph Garcia, Vela Middle school speech, drama, and debate teacher, was proud of his teams’ results.


“The beautiful thing about being able to participate in these competitions so late in the year is that we have been preparing for this anyway,” Joseph said. “While students were slightly apprehensive about maybe not having the proper equipment for recording, or having strong camera quality, our students are confident and very polished in their performance abilities. They were able to adapt and figure something new out.”


Garcia says he is extremely proud of his students and has high hopes for the future of Virtual Speech competitions as they open a new door to greater opportunities.


Vela Middle School MASQ Jr. Results:

Vela Middle School:
Adrianna Rodriguez- DI Champion, Prose Champion and 2nd Place-Poetry
George Matthew Gutierrez- 3rd Place-HI, 3rd Place-Prose and 4th Place-Poetry
Sadie Jensen- 4th Place-Prose and 5th Place-Poetry
Kyah Walker- 5th Place-HI


Harlingen High School MASQ Results:

Dramatic Interpretation 4th Place: Faith Ann Zepeda
Prose Interpretation 3rd Place: Emily Weston
Prose Interpretation 4th Place: Gabriella Celine Garza
Prose Interpretation 6th Place: Madison Myers

Lauren Bender- Prose
Gabriella Celine Garza- Dramatic

Gabriela Rae Garza- Dramatic
Joe Adams- Dramatic
Christina Banda- Oratory
Madison Myers- Humorous
Nativity Poe- Prose
Faith Ann Zepeda- POI


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