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.

  • Debate at Damus Hollywood Invitational

    Last weekend, the Debate team was in Los Angeles competing at the Damus Hollywood Invitational, a national circuit tournament held at Notre Dame High School. 13 students competed against 40 different schools coming from 10 different states. 
    Our students Caroline Young '25 and Dominic Oliveri '24 won the tournament in the novice division! Caroline and Dom won three out of their four preliminary debate rounds, and advanced automatically through the semi final elimination debate. They then went on to debate in the tournament finals, where they won on a 3-0 decision from their judging panel to win their 1st place trophy. 

    The teams of Calvin Schaeffer '26/Paul Macievich '25 and Disha Sharma '25/Atticus Moss '26 also earned a 3-1 winning record. Both teams ended their impressive run at the tournament as semifinalists.

    Congratulations to all who competed! 
  • Speech Wins NYC Invitational

    Last week, SA Speech & Debate went to New York City competing at the NYC Invitational held at the Bronx High School of Science. This is a national circuit tournament that attracted competitors from all over the country. I am so happy to announce that we placed first, second, and third in Duo Interpretation! Elena Hanna ‘24 and Nia Murray ‘24 performed a 10 minute rendition of The Lorax by Dr. Suess, and finished in third. Luciana Eyler ‘25 and Ellie Stearn ‘25 won second place by wowing their judges with a touching script about the bond between sisters. And finally, Madigan Traversi ‘23 and Talulah Juniper ‘23 won it all with their performance of “Catch Me if You Can,” the 2002 film portraying a skilled bank robber on the run from an FBI agent. 

    All three Duo teams received a bid to the prestigious Tournament of Champions, the Speech and Debate community’s premier national championship. Competitors must collect two bids during the school year by competing and finishing at the top of national circuit tournaments throughout the school year. To already be halfway there by October is a huge accomplishment for these students. 

    Congratulations to our students! And huge thanks to Rodney and Travis, who bravely agreed to help chaperone this trip! 
  • Speech and Debate Team Wins Big at CSU Long Beach

    The Speech & Debate team recently competed at the CSU Long Beach Jack Howe Invitational, held from September 23-25 in Long Beach, CA. A group of 20 students flew to LA to compete in this national circuit season opener. Our students came into this season prepared; five students participated in intensive summer debate programs, ranging from three to five weeks in length, held at UC Berkeley and Gonzaga University. This hard work paid off, and we had our most successful season opener to date! 

    In Varsity Policy Debate, the team of Zadie DeFord ‘24 and Luca Tonda ‘24 earned an impressive winning record, winning four out of their six preliminary debate rounds on the topic of security cooperation within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. As part of the upper echelon of the varsity division, Zadie and Luca moved on to the elimination debates, where they competed in the double octofinal elimination round. 

    In Novice Policy Debate, many of our students competed in their first debate tournament, and were met with great success. Disha Sharma ‘25 and the teams of Calvin Schaeffer ‘26/Atticus Moss ‘26, Paul Macievich ‘25/Jack Miller ‘24, and Caroline Young ‘25/Dom Oliveri ‘24 all earned winning records in the novice division—the best showing we’ve ever had in Novice! Caroline and Dom emerged at the top of the bracket and earned their way into the quarterfinal elimination debate. The team of Joshua Lim ‘26/Siddharth Kohli ‘26 won four of their five preliminary debates, and were the second seed of the tournament before elimination debates. Josh and Sid won their quarterfinal and semifinal debates, and made it all the way to the final championship round of the tournament. 

    On the Speech side of the tournament, Aubrey Elder ‘23 started the year off strong, earning his way into the semifinal round of Impromptu speaking and finishing in the top 10 in a very competitive field of students. Athena Ryan ‘24 competed in Dramatic Interpretation for the first time, and earned 4th place in her division. Nia Murray ‘24 was a finalist in Varsity Dramatic Interpretation. 

    Congratulations to our competitors! Next up, the debate team heads to our first Golden Gate Speech Association League Tournament of the year at Monte Vista High School.

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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