The inner workings of Speech and Debate

By Shruti Magesh


HS Speech and Debate allows everyone to participate in tournaments, distinguishing levels of skill by the Junior Varsity and Varsity teams. Each competition is structured in a specific way and requires a specific skill set from the competitors.

HHS Debate currently has two teams, Lincoln-Douglas and Parliamentary. The teams take part in two different competitions. The local tournaments take place over one day, and typically have four rounds. Different opponents are faced at each round, and competitors argue both the affirmative and negative side of the topic. Large scale tournaments, however, are held at colleges or universities. These tournaments last around two days and can have six to seven rounds.

There are a few key qualities to successful debaters. Resilience is one of these traits and is critical given the structure of the debate competitions, with multiple rounds.

“It’s important to come back from your losses and improve in the next round,” said senior Neeraj Senthil, Vice President of Debate.

Confidence is another highly valued trait in debaters, Senthil said.

“You can’t let the toughness of your opponent affect how well you speak or the clarity of your arguments.. It’s important that you stay confident in yourself because at the end of the day, you are the only determinant of your success,” Senthil said.

Speech competitions, on the other hand, are structured differently. There are three different committees: original, where participants have to write their own original speech on any topic that interests them; impromptu, where participants are given a short period of time to prepare a speech on an assigned topic and have five minutes to present it; and interpretation, where participants are given must give an interpretation on an already published piece of work, said senior Laeticia Yang, Vice President of Speech.

Speech participants must have underlying qualities of confidence and passion, which help enhance the quality of the speech.

Compared to last year, Speech and Debate has made some significant improvements in their off season. They have gotten a new coach, Ms. Curly, who is also a paraeducator.

“We have gotten an amazing coach, who is actually also a paraeducator at Homestead, her name is Ms. Curly… she has majored in political science at UC Berkeley and is willing to take this team to the next level,” said Senthil.

Speech and Debate offers many opportunities for practice and learning through its tournaments.

“Speech and debate overall is a club for everyone..I can guarantee your speaking skills will improve if you just take the first step and put yourself out there,” Senthil said.