Sophomore wins speech state championship for Programmed Oral Interpretation

June 6, 2023 — by Mitchell Chen and Skyler Mao
Timothy Leung outlasted 49 other competitors to win his category at the state speech tournament.
Timothy Leung rewarded for his moving story about silence in child abuse victims.

Sharing his experience with struggle, grief and silence as a victim of childhood abuse, sophomore Timothy Leung brought home the top trophy  in the category of Programmed Oral Interpretation after delivering a captivating and empowering speech at The California High School Speech Association (CHSSA) State Championship in Carlsbad on April 21. 

 In this category,  participants deliver 10-minute speeches on thematically linked pieces in prose, poetry and drama.

“Speech is a place to tell a larger story about my own experiences and make an impact on people,” Leung said. “I was really happy to win the tournament, and I think it was really rewarding because I’ve been working really hard on my piece all season,” Leung said. 

With over 50 students participating in this category, every round consisted of seven students who performed the speech. The judges would then rank the students based on their performance quality from 1 (best) to 7 (worst), and the winner would be the one with the lowest score. 

Leung consistently placed first in all but one of three pre-elimination rounds, and continued to win the semifinals and finals.

Although Leung presented his piece at the state championships during the spring, his preparation began last summer. He continuously improved his piece by taking feedback from judges and other competitors while presenting it at various competitions throughout the year.

While he has been to state championships before, this year was the first time he went to the event in person, as COVID-19 hindered in-person participation during previous years, leading to the event being held online. This was also the first time that Leung had received first place at the championship.

The inspiration for Leung’s piece came from watching other talented speakers perform.

“After going to nationals last year, I watched people do pieces that were really heartfelt to them and ones that people connected with, which is something that I had never thought about,” Leung said.

Leung took this theme of personal experience and connection, shaping his piece around his own story while also including powerful emotion and feeling into his work.

For Leung, speaking about his experiences became an outlet for him to dig introspectively and see how his own experiences were impactful to the people in the speech community. He wrote about the silencing of victims of child abuse to uplift others who shared similar experiences.

“It’s really uplifting when I do a piece like this and people come up to tell me they can relate to what I spoke about,” he said.

Leung shared his own experience with child abuse and spoke about the dangers of silent victims. He aimed to use his speech to connect with as many people as possible, and hopes to continue spreading his message of breaking silence by going to tournaments and talking about it.

Leung will attend the Speech and Debate National Tournament from June 11 to June 16 in Phoenix. He hopes to continue to spread his message to a national audience there.

“I’ve learned to not try to hone in on results, but my overall goal is just to use my last tournaments to inspire as many people as possible with my performance,” he said.

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