The Strength of Pens and Gavels

By: Thomas Dessens, Reporter

What is Debate?

Speech and debate is an academic extracurricular activity in which students partake in a various amount of competitions, persuading judges, memorizing scripts, and pouring hours of grueling work into perfecting every little thing in order to secure a victory. Debate is one of the most time-consuming extracurricular activities if you want to be successful, whether this time be dedicated to researching topics, memorizing speeches, filing articles for use in extemporaneous speaking, attending camp over the summer, going to an outside coach for help creating cases, researching possible attacks, and writing speeches and cases.

Speech is defined by the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) as an activity involving one, two, or even a group of students judged against others in a round of competition. Speech events range from limited preparation events that require extensive knowledge of current events in the world to dramatic and humorous interpretation of literature.

Junior Yash Aggarwal

Such events are:

Domestic and Foreign Extemporaneous speaking, which involves drawing a topic, getting 30 minutes to file through previously saved articles, and presenting a speech not supposed to exceed seven minutes.
Dramatic and Humorous Interpretation, where one, two, or more competitors take a piece of literature, or multiple pieces, and act out it out in a dramatic or funny way.
Poetry and Prose is where students take a poem or a mash-up of various pieces of literature along the same theme and relay those with a passion.
Debate is defined by NSDA as an activity involving an individual or a team of debaters who work to convince a judge that their side of the resolution is more valid. Students learn the ins and outs of the resolution, which is the topic of discussion, by having previously researched the topic, and learn to prepare for every argument made on each side.

Such events are:

Lincoln-Douglas debate is an individual event in which the debaters are given a side of the resolution to defend, and each side has a total amount of thirteen minutes to present their position, attack their opponent’s case, and refute attacks on their own case made by the opponent. There is also two cross-examination periods of three minutes each in which one side questions the other about their case, in order to better understand it or find flaws in said case. All of this is to persuade a judge which side of the resolution is better.

Public Forum debate is a team event in which pairs of debaters choose a side of the resolution they want to defend (after winning a coin toss), present their arguments as well as attack and defend their arguments in an attempt to persuade a judge or judges that the side they are defending is the best to choose.There is also a crossfire which presents the opportunity to question the opposing team.

Congress debate is an activity in which many debaters compete, taking turns expressing their thoughts and statistical data on possible amendments. Students generate a series of bills and resolutions for debate, and they alternate giving speeches for and against the topic in a large setting. There is also a student who serves as presiding officer to ensure a smooth run

Policy Debate is a two-on-two person event that focuses on a policy question that involves the proposal of a plan by the affirmative team in order to enact a policy, while the negative team offers reasons to reject said proposal. There is also an opportunity for students to question each other throughout the debate with cross-examinations being present.

With many options to explore and events to choose from, speech and debate has something for just about everyone. From a great community of people to be connected with, and a fun activity to participate in, debate is definitely something in which you should participate.

This is not a full list of events, for a full list click here: