Speech and Debate Team

  • What Can Speech and Debate Team Do For You?

    Today’s world calls for students to be competitive in new ways. Speech and Debate can help you:

    • Overcome speaking anxieties
    • Increase your public communication skills
    • Develop better study habits, research skills, time management and organizational skills.

    Employers consistently want to hire people who can communicate clearly and well in front of groups, and use critical thinking skills to analyze and solve problems.

    Where can students develop these skills best? Speech and Debate!

    Speech Team students are more likely to go on to college, are more attractive to potential employers, and are more confident generally in all walks of life. Speech Team provides academically and creatively oriented students the chance to learn the same skills of teamwork and focused practice athletes discover when working on their teams.

    And yes, you CAN letter in Forensics!

    What the Competitors Say

    “Forensics really helped me transition to a new school. It gave me an opportunity to make new friends, and take part in an awesome activity. The Speech and Debate team is a community that anyone would be happy if they joined.” --Libby Morgan-Steiner, Four-year State Qualifier, 2014 6th-place in After Dinner Speaking

    “Debate has helped me connect with a large, diverse community of friends and learn a set of skills that help with everything from research for school to convincing my parents to raise my allowance.” --Chris Meabe, 2012 State finalist in Radio Commentary, semifinalist in Oratory

    Get Started

    The Speech and Debate Team season starts with a tournament at Sam Barlow High School in Gresham on Saturday, October 4th, and runs most of the year. Get started early to take advantage of special Novice Division opportunities to compete against other newcomers! This is a chance for new competitors to learn from experience and see "how the game is played."

    You can start at any time of the year, though. Just get in touch and we'll help you get started!

    How It Works

    Speech tournaments offer a variety of events covering three basic categories: public address, interpretative reading, and debate. Depending on your student’s interests and talents, she or he may compete in any or all of the events over time. Usually, a student will prepare two to three events for a season and sign up to compete at invitational tournaments around Oregon, leading up to the District and State Tournaments in spring. The time commitment varies; weekly meetings provide time for planning, practicing, and receiving valuable coaching assistance. Tournaments take place on weekends, and a student does not have to participate at every event. Prior commitment? SAT test? Family activity? Don’t stress, it’s flexible. You can be as involved as your time allows.

    In 2009, Wilson won 1st place at the OSAA State Tournament. In 2014, Wilson took 3rd place at State. Our goal is for all students to have the chance to find their strength, play to it, and go as far as they can.

    Speech Team is a "pay to play" activity, and a fee of $200 is charged per student for the team. If your family qualifies for free or reduced price lunches, however, this fee can be reduced. Please see the front office for more information.

    Most tournaments will take place on Saturdays at high schools and will not require overnight stays. A few events happen after school on weekdays. Tournaments hosted by colleges are usually two or three days, and we will arrange for your student to be away from class just like athletes with an “away game.”

    Competitors dress in professional attire, and will need to have appropriate clothing for tournaments. We can help with this if needed.

    We want students to attend as many tournaments as possible, so if there are any problems with the financial aspects of competing, please speak with us privately. We will see to it that all students will be able to compete.

    Speech & Debate FAQs

    What is speech & debate?
    Speech and Debate is a fantastic academic showdown. Your public speaking and quick thinking skills are put to use as you compete in various events against students from other schools across Oregon.

    What are the requirements to participate?
    You must maintain a 2.5 GPA at least. However, no prior experience is needed to join the team. Everyone’s welcome, as long as you’re ready to give it all you’ve got!

    What events are offered?
    There’s a variety of individual events (IEs) and debate styles to choose from:


    • Impromptu
    • Dramatic Interpretation
    • Dual Interpretation
    • Oratory
    • Poetry
    • Prose
    • Radio
    • Extemporaneous Speaking
    • Expository
    • After Dinner Speaking (ADS)


    • Cross-examination
    • Lincoln-Douglas
    • Public Forum
    • Public aka Parliamentary


    What do I wear to tournaments?
    To speak well, we dress well! Generally we wear business wear, like blazers, blouses, skirts, heels, dresses, suits, ties, dress shoes, etc. Judges may take off points for distasteful clothing. Showing cleavage, wearing very short skirts or showing too much skin are unacceptable. Not sure? We can help!

    Do I have to attend all practices and all tournaments?
    Of course not! The nice thing about Speech and Debate is that you can arrange to attend the labs that fit your schedule. Meetings are Tuesday afternoons from 3:30-4:00 followed by practice until 5:00; Wednesdays and Thursdays, practice is from 3:30-5:00. Tournaments are most weekends on Saturdays, with tournaments at universities usually also Fridays. While it’s best to get as much help from the coach and practice time as you can, members aren’t required to come to every practice. And each tournament should be viewed as a practice for competing at districts and the national qualifiers.

    Do you have to do Speech AND Debate?
    Lots of members decide to do events in both areas, but it’s not required.

    Are there any group events?
    Speech events are generally called individual events but there’s Dual Interpretation which is kind of like acting. It’s a two-person skit (with some boundaries and rules, of course.) Also Public, Public Forum, and Cross-examination are two-person debate events.

    Is Speech and Debate fun?
    Of COURSE it is!! Thousands of students are competing, making friends, earning college scholarships, meeting college faculty and seeing campuses, and winning trophies every week across America. Speech and Debate is a great team to be part of—come find out why!

    For more information: Call or email Don Steiner (503-943-0014)