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 at State

    We headed to CSU Long Beach with the biggest group to ever qualify in Speech for the State Tournament. This year we had five qualifiers in four events (because one of the events was a duo).

    Reece Stromberg '19 joined our team just this year, and he quickly drew quite a bit of attention to himself by winning trophies at the league tournaments in National Extemporaneous speaking. In this event Reece gets a half hour to prepare a speech on a topic related to the politics and economy of the United States. In general, extempers are a tight-knit group and they know each other quite well. So Reece proved to be a big disruption midway through this year. He finished with quite a great record under his belt, and he enjoyed his time at the State Tournament.
    Emma Hartley '20 has attended the State Tournament three years in a row in the same event—Advocacy. This year Emma wrote a powerful, well documented speech on reforming living conditions in the Appalachian Mountains. She dazzled the judges all year with this speech, even when she had to give it as an Oratory rather than an Advocacy, which is an event that emphasizes eloquence and delivery more than grounded research and argumentation. Given Emma's track record, we can probably expect her to make it again. Prior to Emma, no student has even made it to State more than twice!

    Our dynamic duo, Ellie Ramos '21 and Veronica Aranda '21, performed their duo, "Birthday Candles." The most impressive thing about this team is their work ethic, which is the only thing greater than their natural talent for acting and storytelling. These two never stopped adding to their choreography. One of the most challenging things about speech is performing the same piece for an entire year. Many competitors loose interest in their speech and want to start new ones. These young women found ways to keep their interest alive, finding nuance in the language, or new ways to imagine their scenes. As sophomores, these two will undoubtedly be contenders at this tournament again.

    Finally, there is Elannah De La O '20. She wowed the school at community meeting the week prior with a performance of her Program in Oral Interpretation. For her piece, she has woven five different pieces together to create a new work that aims to convey the Mexican American experience and the diverse range of voices within this community. Her piece includes poetry by Jimmy Santiago Baca and a transposed performance of the song "One Time One Night" by Los Lobos. Elannah beat the odds by breaking to semi-finals in her event, making her top fifteen in the state in her event.

    We have had a wonderful season... probably the most successful ever, and we can only expect greater things to come. Undoubtedly there's so much to celebrate at the Awards Banquet last week!
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  • SA Debate team ranks among top 16 teams in California!

    Seniors Isabelle Elder and Olivia Synek finished their high school debate careers ranked as one of the top 16 policy debate teams in the state of California! Only one other SA Debate team in the history of our program has done as well. Isabelle and Olivia earned their statewide recognition after qualifying to and competing at the California High School Speech Association's State Championship Tournmament held at California State University, Long Beach May 3-5.

    This success is the culmination of a lot of hard work this year, competing at policy debate tournaments over the course of the entire school year. This year's policy debate topic (which schools all across the country have been researching) was about substantially changing US immigration policy. Policy debaters are required to provide high quality evidence to support all of their arguments and have to learn to debate both sides of the resolution at every single tournament they attend. 

    Our season ends with the State Championship and now SA Debate turns its focus to next year's national resolution about international arms sales. 
    Read More
  • Students Compete in State Speech and Debate Championships

    Several of our Speech and Debate students are currently at CSU Long Beach competing for the state title in their events! Representing SA are Isabelle Elder '19, Olivia Synek '19, Reece Stromberg '19, Emma Hartley '20, Elannah De La O '20, Veronica Aranda '21, and Ellie Ramos '21. Wish them luck!
    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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