Speech & Debate
- What is Speech and Debate?
- What does the team do?
- What are tournaments like?
- How do we get on the team?
- How much will it cost to be on the team?
- What’s the time commitment for parents?
- Can my student be involved in other activities while on the team?
- Event Descriptions
Westview Speech and Debate is an intensive, competitive program where students learn advanced public speaking skills in competition at tournaments throughout the regular competition season (Oct-Mar). Westview’s program is nationally ranked thanks to the rigorous effort and time/energy commitment of our students. Due to the popularity of the program, the team annually fills to capacity.
Regular practice is scheduled for 2:45-4:30 every Monday in the Lower South wing where students learn the rules and techniques of various speech and debate events. Coaches and student Lab Leaders of each event give instruction. Significant independent preparation and practice are required outside of regular practice. Team members are expected to compete regularly at tournaments. The ultimate goal of tournament competition is to develop a level of excellence to become a viable candidate to qualify for the State and National Championships.
Caveat: As of September, there are currently a limited number of tournaments being offered by Oregon programs. Many are once again advertised as on-line tournaments. Some are currently listed as in person, although be prepared for some, if not all, moving to the on-line format. It is unknown to which degree, if at all, teams will be able to travel for in-person tournaments during this competition season.
Tournaments are hosted at high school and college campuses primarily in the metro area and Willamette Valley. The team occasionally travels to tournaments requiring overnight travel. Each team member is recommended to compete in 2 events at an in-person tournament with either 1 debate and 1 speech event, or two speech events (no debate). Getting trained in multiple events increases a student’s chance at not missing out on a competition opportunity, as some events fill to capacity quickly. Tournaments are all day events. The team leaves early in the morning and returns late at night. Most tournaments are held on a Saturday. Larger tournaments occur on a Friday/Saturday. Coaches excuse students from any classes occurring on a school day. For overnight tournaments, students sleep two to a bed, four students total per room. At no time are students allowed in the hotel rooms of students of the opposite sex.
The competition season is divided into two categories: “Invitationals” occur October-March and any member of the team is eligible to attend. “Qualifying” tournaments occur March-June when coaches choose students to represent the team.
Although the team competes in many tournaments every year, each student does not compete at every tournament. Students and their families plan together to choose which tournaments to attend. Gains in skill happen with consistent competition attendance. Infrequent competition due to school class load and/or other extra-curricular activities is not sustainable. Those students are likely to be better served by participating in other speaking activities offered in high school rather than the speech and debate team.
Students (not parents) register for a tournament by requesting a slot from their Lab Leader before the deadline, with the events he or she is requesting. If a student isn’t sufficiently prepared to compete, student Lab Leaders inform coaches; coaches will drop the student from the registration for that tournament.
For in-person competition, unless stated otherwise by a host tournament, students wear appropriate tournament attire throughout the day and remain at the tournament including through the concluding awards ceremony. It isn’t appropriate for a student to request an early pick-up because he or she does not make “Finals”. Special circumstances require a contact from the family to the Head Coach.
Food is often available for purchase at tournaments. But students are encouraged to bring their own food for non-overnight tournaments to ensure nutritious and less expensive meals. Tournaments often have limited options offering more fat, sugar, and salt than protein. Vegetarian options are rare with the exception of tournaments hosted on college campuses.
The most important step is to have a frank conversation within the family whether or not the student will be able to commit the significant preparation and competition time required. Competition is also expensive, although the team can offer some assistance with fees (See “Fee Assistance” below).
At this time, it is unknown which documents the Beaverton School District (BSD) will require before adding a student to the official roster, making the student eligible for competition. The “Team Contract” is currently the only document requirement by the coach to be signed by both the student and a parent. This document will be made available electronically and will require an “autosign”.
*Fees can be paid through ParentVue or given directly to Westview’s bookkeeper. Checks are made out to “Westview High School”. The Bookkeeper’s office is inside the Attendance Office.
*Each competition charges each student a fee for his or her event(s), which varies by tournament. These fees are paid to Westview and due before the competition date.
*Students new to the team also pay a one-time $25 National Speech and Debate Association student membership fee- NSDA membership is required to participate with the team.
Help with Fees
Competition can be expensive. Please advise the coach if financial assistance is needed. Financial need will not prevent a student from access to competition opportunities.
Bussing is not available for the 2021-2022 season. Any in-person tournaments will require parent carpools. BSD policy does not allow students (even if 18) to drive themselves or others to any school district endorsed activitiy.
Each student competing at a tournament is required to have an adult judge cover his/her entry for that tournament, whether it’s an in-person or on-line tournament. Tournaments do not provide judges. Teams are responsible for providing parent judges and training is provided.
Beaverton School District requires adult judges to complete a free, one-time, two-minute background check prior to judging at his or her first tournament. These take several weeks to process and should be done as soon as possible. Students are ineligible to compete until the parent judge has had the background check cleared. Note: The Oregon Department of Education is also requiring adult judges to upload proof of vaccination before being eligible to judge for in-person tournaments.
Yes. However, inconsistent attendance at practice (“I have a big test tomorrow” “I have to go to my other club(s)” “My Mom made a dentist appointment for me”…) these add up quickly. Planning ahead is a student’s responsibility. It is acceptable, although not recommended, to join the team late. Most common requests are, “My son plays fall sports. Can he start the team late?” Yes, but be advised that past students have expressed frustration with joining the team late and being behind in the training.
Note: Although the "Cross Examination" topic remains throughout the school year, the Lincoln Douglas topic changes bi-monthly and the Public Forum topic changes monthly (with the exception that Public Forum uses the same topic only for September and October, thereafter it changes monthly).
Note2: Students considering a partner debate as one of his/her main events should first consider who would be a good partner (picking your best friend isn’t necessarily a great idea). Although coaches monitor pairings and sometimes adjust who partners with whom, it is a student's responsibility to secure their own partner. Coaches do not "find" you a partner.
Cross-examination Debate (aka “Policy” or “CX”)- Partner debate, prepares both Affirmative and Negative cases on a year-long resolution to debate alternately over multiple rounds per tournament against teams from another school, significant evidence research load, extremely fast-paced, focusing on a real-world international policy resolution. 2020-2021 resolution: Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its protection of water resources in the United States.
Lincoln-Douglas Value Debate (aka “Value” or “LD”)- Individual debate, prepares both Affirmative and Negative cases on a resolution that changes bi-monthly, to debate alternately over several rounds per tournament against a debater from another school, requires abstract analysis of a "value" with evidence. (Sept/Oct topic) Resolved: The member nations of the World Trade Organization ought to reduce intellectual property protections for medicines.
*For Novice LD debaters, the topic area will always be: Resolved: Civil Disobedience in a democracy is morally justified. (Students advance out of Novice at coach's discretion).
Parliamentary Debate (aka “Parli”)- Partner debate with both teams given 3 resolution choices at beginning of round, each team “strikes” one resolution with the remaining resolution to be debated, each team then given 15 minutes to write a case, no evidence allowed, debaters must be significant consumers of current event news to have background knowledge on variety of topics, topics generally address domestic and international issues, or may be a value-based topic. Thinking on your feet and the ability to eloquently explain ideas in concrete terms in a relaxed, conversational speaking style is the key!
Public Forum Debate (aka “PF” or “PoFo”)- Partner debate, prepares both Affirmative and Negative cases to debate alternately over several rounds per tournament against teams from another school on a resolution that changes monthly, topics are newsworthy, timely topics the general public would be familiar with using limited evidence. *Although PF topics change monthly, the first topic of the year is used for two months (Sept/Oct) Resolved: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization should substantially increase its defense commitments to the Baltic states.
Congressional Debate (aka “Student Congress”)- Individual debate, looks/sounds like being in the U.S. Congress, speakers bring pre-written bills to debate, all bills policy based, debaters must be significant consumers of current event news to have background knowledge on a variety of topics, speeches are short, debaters give speeches for own bill written by himself or herself, gives speeches for or against bills written by other students, cross examines other debaters and is cross examined by other debaters
Big Question Debate (aka "BQD")- Debate addressing the intersection of science, philosophy, and religion on a year-long resolution. Generally, a one-versus-one event, but can be a partner event. *This would be a great "second" debate event for any debater of one of the formats mentioned above. BQD hasn't been consistently offered at Oregon tournaments, so debaters should not make this their only debate format. However, it is a national qualifying event! Resolved: On balance, societies benefit from religious belief and practice.
Worlds Debate- Partner debate focusing on the ethical and policy implications of national topics. Some rounds are for prepared cases, while others are impromptu in nature; more like Parliamentary debate. Generally, there are 3-5 people on a team. Teammates take turns debating, as only three people debate one side per round. *This would be a great "second" debate event for any debater of one of the formats mentioned above. "Worlds" hasn't been consistently offered at Oregon tournaments, so debaters should not make this their only debate format. However, it is a national qualifying event! (Sample) Resolved: This House supports government control of social media during times of national emergency.
Individual Events (IE’s) Speech Categories
Impromptu- Not pre-written, speaker given three topics, generally a word, phrase, and a quote, speaker quickly chooses one of the topics and given 30 seconds to mentally outline a speech with no notes, need clear beginning, 3 main points, and conclusion with a relevant point (not just summary), gestures/movement encouraged, 5- minute time limit: additional 30-second grace period allowed **New students to the team need coach pre-approval before training in this event.
Extemporaneous Speaking- Not pre-written, speaker given 3 topics, generally quotes or position statements of a domestic and/or international issue, speaker chooses 1 of the topics and given 30 minutes to prepare, speaker uses first half of prep time to research using only the files brought with him or her on a desktop, live internet connection strictly forbidden, speaker uses last half of prep time constructing an outline and practicing the speech, notes not allowed during speech, speaker should include minimum of 3 memorized direct quotes from research including full citation, 7 minute time limit: additional 30 second grace period allowed
Radio Commentary- Pre-written speech of commentary on a topic of current relevance, only event read while sitting down and without judges seeing speaker, heavy emphasis on elocution, MUST be between 4 minutes 45 seconds and 5 minutes 15 seconds, NO grace period, going under or over time disqualifies student in the round **New students to the team need coach pre-approval before training in this event.
Oratory- Pre-written persuasive speech on a topic of social, cultural, ethical, or conceptual relevance, visual aids not allowed, limited gestures/movement encouraged, memorized/no script allowed, 10-minute time limit: additional 30 second grace period allowed
Informative- Pre-written speech on high interest informational topic, 4 to 6 visual aid boards required (allow several weeks to prepare these), easel required, boards must be 22’’X28’’ and sturdy (doesn’t bend when standing unsupported), gestures/movement encouraged, memorized/no script allowed, 10-minute time limit: NO grace period)
Poetry- Prepared thematic speech performing 3-5 published poems, poems may include some original, unpublished poetry by speaker, format is a "teaser" followed by an original introduction explaining the theme and includes the bibliography of poems, limited gestures allowed, movement not allowed, read from a script/not memorized, 8- minute time limit: additional 30-second grace period allowed
Prose- Prepared dramatic or humorous piece interpreting a selection from a published fiction or non-fiction book or story, generally narration performed in 1st or 3rd person, limited gestures allowed, movement not allowed, read from a script/not memorized, 8-minute time limit: additional 30 second grace period allowed
Program Oral Interpretation (aka “POI”)- Prepared thematic speech, hybrid of Poetry, Prose, and dramatic or humorous interpretation, gestures/movement required, read from a script/not memorized, 10-minute time limit: NO grace period allowed
After-Dinner Speaking (aka “ADS”)- Pre-written speech similar to stand-up comedy focusing on a central theme, content must have a serious undertone with a message, humor should be appropriate for a high school audience, gestures/movement encouraged, memorized/no script allowed, 6-minute time limit: additional 30-second grace period allowed
Duo Interpretation- Prepared two-person serious or humorous dialogue piece from a published play or script, gestures/movement required, heavy focus on “blocking” like in a play, memorized/no script allowed,10-minute time limit: additional 30 second grace period allowed
Humorous Interpretation (aka “HI”)- Prepared humorous piece interpreting a selection from a published play or story, monologue or dialogue, gestures/movement required, heavy focus on “blocking” like in a play, memorized/no script allowed, 10-minute time limit: additional 30 second grace period allowed
Dramatic Interpretation (aka “DI”)- Prepared dramatic piece interpreting a selection from a published play or story, monologue or dialogue, gestures/movement required, heavy focus on “blocking” like in play, memorized/no script allowed, 10-minute time limit: additional 30 second grace period allowed