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Valleywide Focus

Taft High's Forensics Team Wins Tourney

March 30, 1994|SUSAN BYRNES

For some students in the San Fernando Valley, success has just four letters: T-A-F-T.

Known around the state for its successful academic decathlon team, Taft High School in Woodland Hills scored another victory this weekend when its speech and debate team took first place at the qualifying competition at Camarillo High School for the national championship in June.

With the highest combined score of its 10 best students, Taft was named the sweepstakes champion of the competition of about 27 teams in the West Los Angeles National Forensics League Division that competed in the two-day tournament.

In all, eight students from Valley high schools will travel to the National Forensics League competition in Kansas City, Mo., this summer. They include two students from Taft, three from Cleveland High School, two from Granada Hills High School and one from Calabasas High School, who will join about 1,900 students from all 50 states.

Taft also won the San Fernando Valley league championship in February and will send seven students to the state championships at the end of April. The victories reflect the growth of a team from seven students three years ago to nearly 30 active members today.

Ryan Nord, 17, a senior at Taft who placed second in the United States Extemporaneous event over the weekend, qualifying to compete in the national competition, credits his coach Calvin Vande Hoef for making the team a success.

"Taft had never really been a powerhouse until last year," he said. "Now everybody fears us.

"It's like going from an underdog to a top dog."

Vande Hoef, who created the team five years ago, said he recruited students by posting flyers and asking team members to tell their friends about the program. The team's competitive spirit reflects his nature.

"I can only do things one way," Vande Hoef said. "If it can be bigger and better, that's my next goal."

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