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.

  • SA Debate Kicks Off League Competition

    On Saturday, October 9, the debate team participated in our first league tournament of the year in the Golden Gate Speech Association. In this scrimmage-style tournament, we competed against schools from all over the Bay Area on the topic of water resource management, and we were met with great success. 

    In novice debate, our students who are new to competing in policy debate made their debuts at the tournament. The teams of Ithaka Serber '24/Lesli Munoz Perez '24, Julia Sandoval '24/Luca Tonda '24, and Hannah Marik '25/Cat Weber Sanguinetti '25 all earned winning records, and won the majority of their debates over the course of the tournament. The team of Henry Xiao '23/Lukas Updegraff '24 went undefeated in the novice division. 

    In JV debate, the team of Louise Estella '24/Zadie DeFord '24 earned a winning record. In varsity debate, the team of Maddy Jannes '22'/Tabatha Stewart '22 earned a winning record. The team of Jack Jacobs '22/Justin Koida '22 went undefeated, and were the only undefeated team across the entire varsity division. 

    Huge thanks to Mateo Mijares '22 and alums Zoe Price '21, Jordan Rigney '21, Ana Harb '21, and Gibran Hassan '19, who all returned to participate as judges for the tournament. Congratulations to everyone who participated! 
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  • SA Debaters Receive National Ranking 

    For the first time in SA Speech and Debate history, our students received votes in the national high school coaches poll, placing us as one of the top debate programs in the nation. The coaches poll, conducted by the policy debate community's most influential high school and college debate coaches, ranks the best competitors on the national circuit based on tournament success and anticipated national achievement during the season. 
    The team of Jack Jacobs '22 and Mateo Mijares '22 received several votes from participating coaches, and were ranked 33rd overall in the United States out of thousands of policy debaters across the country. To receive this recognition from the community is an unprecedented accomplishment for our team and marks our rise on the national circuit. Congratulations to Jack and Mateo! 
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  • 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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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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