Midway High School Speech and Debate is dedicated to helping students compete successfully in speech and debate competition events at the highest level possible. Our program is open to anyone who wishes to join - just stop by to see Mrs. Jones in Room 323 between classes or after school for more information or to sign up.Our season is from September until April or May, depending on how far our competitors advance. We offer at least one tournament per month, but many times we will offer more. Our more experienced debaters typically travel more than our younger debaters. Several tournaments we will attend have competition starting on a Thursday or Friday, which means team members may occasionally miss classes. Team members will know about these ahead of time and are expected to talk with their teachers about the absence beforehand.
What are Speech and Debate?
Midway High School offers four different debate events and many different speech events. The following descriptions of each event were taken from the National Speech & Debate Association Competition Events Guide. A list of all debate topics can be found here.
Policy Debate - Debaters work in pairs (teams) to address the school year's topic, either from the affirmative side (to propose a plan to solve a problem with the topic), or the negative side (to prove how the affirmative’s plan is flawed). Argumentation includes a constructive case, cross-‐examination, and refutation. Skills learned include research, policy analysis, case building, refutation, questioning, organization and communication.
Lincoln Douglas Debate - Lincoln Douglas debate centers on a proposition of value, which concerns itself with what ought to be instead of what is. A value is an ideal held by individuals, societies, governments, etc. Debaters are encouraged to develop argumentation based upon a values perspective. To that end, no plan (or counterplan) will be offered by the debaters. In Lincoln Douglas Debate, a plan is defined by the NSDA as a formalized, comprehensive proposal for implementation. The debate should focus on reasoning to support a general principle instead of particular plans and counterplans. Debaters may offer generalized, practical examples or solutions to illustrate how the general principle could guide decisions.
Public Forum Debate - Public Forum involves opposing teams of two, debating a topic concerning a current event. Proceeding a coin toss, the winners choose which side to debate (PRO or CON) or which speaker position they prefer (1st or 2nd), and the other team receives the remaining option. Students present cases, engage in rebuttal and refutation, and also participate in a “crossfire” (similar to a cross examination) with the opportunity to question the opposing team. Often times community members are recruited to judge this event.
Congressional Debate - This is individual debate in a large group setting. Legislative debaters research and write pieces of Congressional legislation that they feel will better the society in which we live. At a tournament, debaters will then speak on the legislation while using proper parliamentary procedure. Judges score each competitor based on argumentation ability, speaking technique, knowledge of parliamentary procedure, and overall participation.
Extemporaneous Speaking - A contestant draws three questions, selects one, then has 30 minutes to prepare a speech in response, of up to seven minutes. The contestant utilizes files of published materials (books, magazines, newspapers, online sources) s/he has compiled as a resource for answering the question. The NSDA divides extemp. into two separate events: United States (dealing with domestic issues), and International (issues beyond US borders).
Original Oratory - Orators are expected to research and speak intelligently, with a degree of originality, in an interesting manner, and with some profit to the audience, about a topic of significance. Although many orations deal with a current problem and propose a solution this is not the only acceptable form of oratory. Your oration may simply alert the audience to a threatening danger, strengthen its devotion to an accepted cause, or eulogize a person. An orator is given free choice of subject and judged solely on the effectiveness of development and presentation.
Interpretation - This includes categories of individual (solo) performance of dramatic (serious) and humorous literature, as well as duo performance of either emotive appeal, with selections drawn from published, printed: novels, short stories, plays, poetry, or other printed, published works.
Where do you compete?
We compete on four different "circuits" all over the state, and sometimes nation.
University Interscholastic League (UIL) - The University Interscholastic League is a public school only organization which facilitates academic, speech, and debate contests in Texas. For policy debate, there is a district tournament in early February, and the first- and second-place teams at districts advance to the state tournament held in March at the University of Texas. For Lincoln Douglas Debate and speech events, there is a district tournament in March. The top three competitors in each event advance to a regional contest held in April. The top three competitors from Regionals advance to the state meet held in May. The UIL does not host Public Forum Debate at any tournaments. Debate events in UIL are traditionally very conservative and formal.
Texas Forensic Association (TFA) - The Texas Forensic Association is an organization open to both public and private schools in Texas which facilitates speech and debate contests. Students qualify for the state tournament held in March by earning points at TFA invitationals throughout the year. Points are earned by placing at tournaments, and the amount of points awarded depends on how well the competitor did as well as the size of the tournament. Debate events in TFA are traditionally very progressive, less formal, and more resemble the style of debate seen in college.
National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) - The National Speech & Debate Association is an organization that facilities speech and debate contests and is open to both public and private schools throughout the entire nation. The NSDA does not sponsor any invitational tournaments throughout the year. There is a district tournament held in April, and the top few competitors (depending on the event) advance to the national tournament held in June. Debate events at NSDA are traditionally very conservative and formal.
"The National Circuit" (TOC Qualifiers) - The University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY hosts an elite tournament called the Tournament of Champions every April. This tournament hosts only the top 74 competitors from both public and private schools throughout the entire nation in each event. The rankings are decided by the number of "bids" acquired at TOC Qualifier invitational tournaments throughout the year. Competitors must have at least two bids to qualify for the tournament, and can acquire them by reaching a "bid round" in the elimination rounds at qualifying tournaments. Which elimination round is decided to be the "bid round" depends on the size and quality of the tournament. There are six bid tournaments in the state of Texas. Debate events on the national circuit are traditionally very progressive, less formal, and more resemble the style of debate seen in college.