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 and Debate at Harvard

    Last weekend, members of the Varsity Speech and Debate teams traveled to Cambridge, MA to compete at the Harvard University National Forensics Tournament. This is one of the most significant and widely attended invitationals of the season on the national Speech & Debate circuit. Nearly 450 schools from 35 different states across the United States and Canada traveled to Harvard to compete! Our students had their work cut out for them competing on such a large national stage against so many other national circuit programs. 

    In Varsity Policy Debate, students competed in seven preliminary debate rounds over the course of two days, for a total of 20+ hours of debating and preparing. The team of Caroline Young '25 and Lukas Updegraff '24 had a standout performance in the Varsity division, and earned a winning record. Caroline and Lukas defeated teams from Chicago, Boston, Minnesota, and New York, and advanced into the elimination rounds of the tournament! This is an incredible feat for these particular students, since they both started competing at the national circuit level just this year. In one season, they have transformed from novice debaters into varsity-level competitors, and to make it to elimination rounds at their final invitational of the year is an impressive accomplishment. This performance also puts Lukas and Caroline in the running for a slot at the National Debate Coaches Association National Championship!

    Zadie DeFord '24 and Luca Tonda '24 also won several of their debates, defeating multiple teams from New York and from Texas. They have already qualified for the NDCA National Championship this year. 
  • SA Debate Conquers Las Vegas

    Last weekend, members of the SA Debate team competed at UNLV’s Golden Desert Invitational in Las Vegas, NV. Students competed against 40 other schools from nine different states; there were even competitors who came in from Canada to debate at this national circuit tournament. 

    In Novice Policy Debate, every SA team had a winning record! The teams of Layla Zekarias ‘26/Maya Cookhorn ‘25, An Ly ‘26/Disha Sharma ‘25, and Saanvi Kohli ‘26 /Sarika Satish ‘26 all earned winning records. Joshua Lim ‘26/Siddharth Kohli ‘26 had a 5-0 undefeated record in their preliminary debates, and emerged as the tournament’s second seed. They went on to debate in the quarterfinal elimination round. Josh was awarded 5th place speaker out of more than 50 competitors in his division, and Sid was awarded 3rd place speaker! 

    Congratulations to our competitors, and infinite thanks to Cassidy and Changa for chaperoning and judging debates. Next up, we’re headed to UC Berkeley for the California Invitational! 
  • Speech Success at Peninsula Invitational

    Last weekend, the Speech & Debate team competed at the Peninsula Invitational, a national circuit tournament held in Palos Verdes, CA. 

    We had an amazing showing in Speech; each competitor from SA had strong performances in their preliminary rounds and made it into the final elimination rounds. Luciana Eyler '25 was a semifinalist in Expository Speaking, where she gave an educational talk on cartography and bias in mapmaking. Aubrey Elder '23 was a standout in Impromptu Speaking, and he competed in the semifinal round and final round. He ended up placing 3rd in the tournament. 

    In Duo Interpretation, Talulah Juniper '23 and Madigan Traversi '23 wowed their judges with their performance of the film script "Catch Me If You Can." They made it through the semifinal and final rounds, and placed 2nd in the whole division. I am so pleased to announce that they also earned their second “bid” to the Tournament of Champions, and are now fully qualified to the national championship. This will be our school’s third appearance at the TOC, and we are so thrilled that Talulah and Madigan will be representing SA in Lexington, KY 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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