Sonoma Academy '15
“Coaching at SCDS was made all the more fun by the students and their constant energy and interest.”
While Sierra Maciorowski did not know she would return to SCDS as a debate coach when she graduated in 2011, the Winston Churchill quote she chose to accompany her photo in the yearbook left the door open to returning in some capacity.
“The quote, ‘It is not the end. It is not the beginning of the end. It is, perhaps, the end of the beginning,’ is from a book by Avi,” Sierra explained. “The SCDS librarian, Mrs. Harris, either read it aloud or recommended it to me. I still think about life as a series of chapters, rather than a series of endings. It’s much easier to go about life recognizing that you can always turn back the page and smile at your memories, ” Sierra recalled.
Sierra’s chapter as an SCDS speech and debate team coach began after participating in debate at Sonoma Academy for four years and offering herself as a resource to English teacher Abby Lake, who led the launch of the SCDS Debate Team this fall.
In the midst of a gap year before attending Stanford in fall 2016, Sierra coached at SCDS while she was a member of an award-winning SRJC fall 2015 semester debate team. Honors for that team included being, at one point, ranked #1 nationally with Sierra and her partner the #1 community college team in the nation, and her teammates #2. “I don’t think any other moment in my forensics career can even come close to that feeling,” she said. “We had been working so hard for so long and it finally paid off.”
Her confidence today belies the hesitation she experienced as an SA freshman considering joining the debate team. “I didn’t make up my mind to go until the second week of school,” she recalled. “But, I started because arguing sounded fun, albeit terrifying, and I thought public speaking was probably a useful skill for life.
“I wasn’t even certain I’d like debate! Now, ironically, coaching has become one of my life’s purposes.”
While at SA, Sierra and fellow SCDS alumna Karishma Bottari ’11 considered starting a debate team at SCDS. However, when Mrs. Lake launched our team this fall, Karishma, a freshman at Cornell, was geographically challenged for the task. Sierra, however, was able to add coaching the SCDS team and private students to her fall SRJC commitments.
This winter and spring, however, Sierra is in England, attending the Oxford Advanced Studies Program. In fall 2016, she will be a freshman at Stanford and already has a job lined up at Los Altos High School as a parliamentary debate coach.
“Coaching will always be one of my greatest loves – no matter what career path I end up following. I’ll probably still be coaching and judging debate on the side,” she said. “I’m a huge believer in communication; so I think the single greatest tool we have at our disposal in any situation is argumentation, which includes not only being contradictory, but also knowing how to listen, and how to persuade. That makes teaching a new generation of students how to effectively communicate an inspiring and beautiful experience.”