Westpark Elementary enters debate competition, then sends letters to troops overseas


We’re told Eagle Pride is soaring high over at Westpark Elementary School this month, and for good reason. 

On Feb. 5, the school’s inaugural debate team participated in its very first tournament, the Orange County Debate League’s Winter Classic. In fact, Westpark’s sixth-graders went head-to-head with some seasoned middle schoolers – and more than held their own.

“As each round progressed, they improved drastically,” said teacher Judith Crane, who organized the team. “Age and grade level did not hold them back as they scored four wins in the tournament against older and more experienced middle school teams.”

The Westpark squad featured members Samuel Anavim, Alyssa Cadavona, Imaani Choudhuri, Stephanie Kim, Mitchell Lee, Katelynn Nguyen, Jocelyn Leung, Anna Pan, Alyssa Sanjongco, Sunny Su, Nancy Wu and Jeffrey Yang. Allen Leung, a local parent, helped coach and mentor the young debaters.

Four days after the Winter Classic, Westpark was at it again. This time, the entire student body celebrated the culmination of their “Operation: Interdependence” service project during a special patriotic assembly.

Led by Mrs. Crane in conjunction with local business leaders, the Westpark kids collectively penned approximately 2,500 letters to soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. On Feb. 9, all of the heartfelt notes were turned over to businessmen Whit Riske and Mike Vukovich from the Young Professionals of Orange County, which is shipping special care packages to troops overseas.

“The soldiers treasure these notes and many carry them with them into battle,” Riske told the students. “The sentiments bring great joy, pride and a connection to home. We are touched by your magnanimous response to our request and look forward to working with Westpark again.”

Go Eagles!