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.

  • Speech Top 20 in the State!

    Last weekend, our speech and debate students competed at the CA State Championship tournament against nearly 1,300 of California’s best competitors. I am pleased to report that the duo performance of “How Much I Love You” by Maddy Jannes ‘22 and Madigan Traversi ‘23 finished in the top 20 in the state! 

    Our debate students, Zadie DeFord ‘24, Louise Estella ‘24, Luca Tonda ‘24, and Lex Meyer ‘24 had a strong showing. Both teams of two won several debates, and were just one ballot away from moving on to the octofinal elimination rounds (top 16). 

    Congratulations to our students! 
  • Speech and Debate Returns to In-Person Competition

    Last weekend, the debate team celebrated our return to in-person competition. We participated in the Western JV and Novice National Championship, a competitive championship tournament to close out the season for first and second year debaters, held at Laney College in Oakland, CA. Lukas Updegraff '24/Luca Tonda '24, Disha Sharma '25/Lesli Munoz-Perez '24, and Dom Oliveri '24/Lela Potter '24 all debated in the novice division, and Zadie DeFord '24/Lex Meyer '24 debated in JV. 

    Every single SA team who participated won at least one debate, and the team of Lukas Updegraff and Luca Tonda earned an impressive winning record against competitors from all over the country. Jack Jacobs '22, Mateo Mijares '22, and Maddy Jannes '22 all attended the tournament as judges. Congratulations to all of our debaters! 
  • SA at Golden Gate Speech Association State Qualifier

    The Speech and Debate teams had a busy two days on campus last week competing in the Golden Gate Speech Association State Qualifier. This tournament, which attracted 450 of the Bay Area's best high school Speech and Debate competitors, is our league's qualifying tournament for the California State Championship. The Bay Area league is one of the most competitive and rigorous in the state, so competing in this tournament is a challenge in itself. 

    In policy debate, the team of Maddy Jannes '22 and Tabatha Stewart '22 qualified to state for their second year in a row. Sophomores Luca Tonda and Lex Meyer were first alternates, and Zadie DeFord and Louise Estella were third alternates. 

    In speech, every single competitor we entered had a strong performance in the preliminary rounds, and all made it into the semifinal elimination round. Madigan Traversi '23 and Maddy Jannes '22 qualified to state in Duo Interpretation, finishing second overall in the tournament with a heartwarming piece exploring the importance of friendship. Pamela Gloger '24 and Nia Murray '24 were first alternates in Duo, and Talulah Juniper '23/Kyra Shi '23 were second alternates. Pavel Karabelov '22 and Aubrey Elder '23 were semifinalists in Impromptu. 

    Since Maddy qualified in two events, she will be giving up her policy debate spot to our first alternates, Lex and Luca. 

    Congratulations to all of our qualifiers and alternates! We are excited to represent SA at States in April.

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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