Accidental Hero - Room 408
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be made to:

James Logan High
1800 H Street
Union City, CA 94587

Forensics State Championship

Will budget cuts kill this program?

Cuts Endanger Tommie's Program
The New Haven Unified School District (July 2002) has made it final that there will be budget cuts for co-curricular activities, and these cuts will take effect in the new (2002-2003) school year. For the Logan Forensics Team, these cuts amount to $35,000, and will eliminate transportation and one assistant coach. The District's money had provided limited transportation within California.

For Tommie, his team and their parents, the news is devastating. Here is an U.S. National award-winning team who is now prevented from travelling!

With the new budget constraints, the prognosis for this team is disastrously simple; without a travel budget there is no competition and without competition there is no program for the kids. If they don't travel within their own state and build up their rankings, they won't be able to compete nationally because they won't be ranked high enough.

Producer's Plea
As the film's producer and former public school teacher, Terri DeBono, asks, "What's going to happen to the seniors this year? It seems there is no justice at this point, unless a corporate sponsor steps forward. This team should be past bake sales and car washes; they've proved themselves. They are qualified, talented kids. They just don't have the financial backing."

"They deserve a corporate sponsor. I'm sure Tommie wouldn't mind if they wore an embroidered Mac apple on their suit pockets as they walk across a national stage," she grins. "They need an angel that believes in them as much as NIKE believes in Tiger Woods. Funding would bring relief to Tommie and would buy 240 eager kids a reason to continue their pursuit of a college degree."

Real Irony
The real irony of all of this is that here is a racially diverse, working-class group of kids at a public high school surrounded by one of the richest areas in the U.S.—Silicon Valley. Most of the kids and teams who compete in debate and forensics are from private, upper-class schools without the funding problems that James Logan High School faces. Now these kids may be prevented from doing the very thing that is helping them succeed. They are the only forensics team in the nation with such unique racial diversity that has received the national "School of Excellence" award for 4 consecutive years.

Funding Needed
The Logan Forensics Team has achieved great success at a wide range of national invitational tournaments as far away as Hawaii. While such invitationals provide the highest caliber of competition and learning for the students, they often present financial burden to the students and their families due the high cost of travel, lodging, entry fees and meals. Some students cannot participate and lose opportunities to advance in state and national competition. Therefore, despite numerous invitations, our ability to travel outside of California has been very limited.

Recently, Tommie and three students were performing and speaking at UCLA to raise money for the team. He mentioned the all-inclusive figure of $70,000 for travel and fees. This figure includes in and out of the state of California. Until now, the District paid ($35,000) for state travel, and the team raised monies to as many out-of-state competitions as they could. In past years, the kids traveled extensively throughout the state of California, to Chicago, Arizona, Texas, Atlanta and North Carolina (where the nationals were held) and many other places.

Now they are left with an extraordinary program that teaches competitive speech, but they have no way to get to the competitions. It's like asking the UCLA football coach to have a winning national team, but they can't travel.

As to what they are doing to fight it, they are stunned by this news and Tommie is mapping out his plans right now. In past years, as you see in the film, they have had to go back and back in front of the school board to fight for funds. The kids speak at various Silicon Valley corporate events for which they are paid a stipend, and this money goes into the travel fund.

Eleven Years of Success
Founded in 1987, the James Logan Speech and Debate Team has grown to become one of the ten largest programs in the United States. Currently the team includes over 240 students and has a three-person coaching staff. (One will be cut.) For the last eleven years, they have been the leading chapter in the Golden Gate Speech Association which runs from Alameda County to the Oregon border. James Logan Forensics won the California State Championship in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2001 and has placed no lower than fourth during the last ten years.

The Logan Forensics Program reaches beyond competitive success. The overall academic performance of team members is a constant priority. The team makes available academic tutoring for all of its members, and students must maintain a satisfactory grade point average to continue to participate in team activities.

Team members maintain a 3.1 GPA, and have won numerous academic awards and a remarkable 99% of the seniors go on to colleges and four-year universities. Many of these students have been able to secure forensics-related college scholarships from community service organizations. A program like this one deserves support.

Terri DeBono, Producer

Donations may be made to
James Logan High, 1800 H Street Union City, CA 94587

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