That's So SA

Speech & Debate

You'll Have a Say

Speech & Debate develops confidence, poise, critical thinking, and self-expression. Speech students perform polished orations and dramatic interpretations, individually or in pairs, at competitions in the Bay Area. The Policy Debate team engages in intensive research and evidence-based argumentation on a nationally selected resolution and competes in the Golden Gate Speech Association. In the last four years, both speech and debate students have qualified for state championship competitions.

Speech & Debate News

List of 3 news stories.

  • Community Demonstration: Recap & Recording

    by Lani Frazer, Speech & Debate Teacher
    Last Wednesday evening, four of our nationally competitive varsity debaters, Adri Kornfein '21, Zoe Price '21, Mateo Mijares '22, and Jack Jacobs '22, gathered to debate the contentious topic of police reform in the United States in front of an audience of classmates, families, and staffulty. We have spent our season researching and debating criminal justice reform, and for the demonstration, Zoe and Adri took the position of the affirmative, arguing that the police should be federally defunded, with money being reallocated towards community-oriented social services and resources. Citing studies indicating that only 5% of arrests made each year are for serious offenses, and evidence suggesting that policing is used for the systemic abuse and control of marginalized communities, Zoe and Adri claimed that investing resources in social services like housing, mental healthcare, and education would address crime's root causes and significantly reduce the need for policing.

    Jack and Mateo took the position of the negative and argued for the more gradual approach of police reform, including the implementation of trainings and diverse hiring practices. They asserted that policing is an effective deterrent for crime, and that defunding the police will only make policing less effective, while also eliminating important aspects of policing like anti-crime task forces. They also suggested that increased crime rates as a result of the lack of policing could have disadvantageous effects on marginalized communities. Throughout the debate, the students and audience members asked poignant cross-examination questions, including whether prisons would still exist if the affirmative plan were passed, or whether police trainings can be effective enough to overcome individual biases. A recording of the debate can be found here. Congratulations to our students on a great debate, and thank you to all who attended! 
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  • Community Demonstration Debate Wednesday, April 28

    Following a tumultuous year of civil unrest in 2020 and continuing riots and protests this year, a timely topic on many of our minds is systemic inequality and violence against minorities, particularly Black and African Americans, in the United States. The recent trial of Derek Chauvin and death of Duane Wright remind us that police brutality and racism are ongoing issues that our society must grapple with. 
    This year, policy debate students across the country have been researching and debating the topic of criminal justice reform, and our students have done a deep dive into the social and political issues surrounding police violence, mass incarceration, policing technologies, sentencing disparities, and more. In the spirit of using evidence and logic to understand and advocate for complex topics, we invite the SA community to a live demonstration debate, hosted on Zoom by Sonoma Academy's nationally competitive debate team, on Wednesday, April 28, from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm. In this debate, the affirmative team (Adri Kornfein '21 and Zoe Price '21) will argue that the United States federal government should divest federal policing resources directed to local and state law enforcement and reinvest such funds in community service alternatives. The negative team (Jack Jacobs '22 and Mateo Mijares '22) will refute this plan, and offer police reform as a viable alternative. We invite the audience to participate in cross examination of our competitors. 
    Please RSVP to the event here. Zoom information will be sent to respondents before the event. Any questions can be directed to Lani Frazer, Speech and Debate coach, at  
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  • Speech and Debate Prepares for State and National Competition

    It's a busy month for our speech and debate team as we gear up for our state and national championships! Our students have been working hard all year, spending many of their weekends on campus to compete in virtual tournaments. The following students are getting ready to represent SA this month:
    National Debate Coaches Association National Championship (April 10 and 11) 
    Jack Jacobs '22 (Debate) 
    Adri Kornfein '21 (Debate) 
    Mateo Mijares '22 (Debate) 
    Zoe Price '21  (Debate) 
    Tournament of Champions (April 17 and 18)
    Veronica Aranda '21 (Speech)
    California State Championship (April 24 and 25)
    Veronica Aranda '21 (Speech)
    Aubrey Elder '23 (Speech)
    Bert Garner '21 (Speech)
    Maddy Jannes '22 (Debate)
    Pavel Karabelov '22 (Speech)
    Tabatha Stewart '22 (Debate) 
    We are so proud of each of these students for their immense dedication this year, and we're excited that we are so well represented at both the state and national level. Please congratulate and cheer on these students! 
    Read More

Event Descriptions

Policy Debate
Policy is a fast-paced debate event that tests a student’s research, analysis, and strategic thinking skills. Debaters must understand and defend both sides of a resolution in teams of two, and use high-quality evidence to back up their claims.

Congressional Debate
Congress models the U.S. legislative process, and involves writing, researching, and arguing for or against bills in a group setting. Students are judged based on their poise, research skills, and ability to deliver spontaneous and persuasive speeches.

Duo Interpretation
This highly theatrical speech event involves two students performing scenes from a film, book, play, or other published work. Students must display emotion, range, and precision in their delivery, as well as show chemistry and coordination with their partner.

Dramatic Interpretation
If you have a flair for the dramatic, then DI is the event for you. Competitors use a play, story, or other published work and perform a selection that demonstrates their ability to convey emotion and display character development with the use of a dramatic text.

Humorous Interpretation
This interpretation event tests a student’s ability to interpret texts and deliver a humorous speech with comedic timing. Competitors must choose an excerpt from a published work and perform a speech that showcases their delivery skills and ability to portray multiple characters.

Oratorical Interpretation
This classic speech event involves competitors performing a published speech that has already been delivered in a public forum. This event tests the student’s poise and delivery, as well as their ability to interpret the intent of the original speech and provide context to its contemporary meaning.

Thematic Interpretation
Using selections from Prose, Poetry and Drama students create a performance around a central theme. Program Oral Interpretation is designed to test a student’s ability to intersplice multiple types of literature into a single, cohesive performance. A manuscript is required and may be used as a prop within the performance if the performer maintains control of the manuscript at all times.

Original Oratory
Students deliver a self-written, ten-minute speech on a topic of their choosing. Limited in their ability to quote words directly, competitors craft an argument using evidence, logic, and emotional appeals. Topics range widely, and can be informative or persuasive in nature. The speech is delivered from memory.
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