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VOLUME 94 ISSUE 4 A P R . / M AY 2 0 2 0







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Letter from the Executive Director This spring has not gone the way any of us expected. I, like all of you, have been forced to make hard decisions for the safety of our communities because of the COVID-19 pandemic. You have been on my mind every day as our team has worked to provide you with the tools and connections you need. The Class of 2020 in particular has weighed heavy on my heart. Where there is sadness, I have also seen so much cause for hope. While working from home, I’ve been spending a lot of time online, and what I’ve seen there has reminded me of the value of our community. I’ve seen coaches and teachers step up to the plate to find new ways to recognize and advocate for their students. I’ve heard about students working to help and encourage one another. I’ve witnessed teams from across the state, across the country, and across the world work together to provide opportunities to practice, compete, and stay connected online. Through your behavior and your communications with others, you have advocated for the health of our global community. You have stayed home. Many of you have set aside the desire to finish some of the final tournaments of your season. You have given up team meetings in squadrooms and practice as usual. In doing so, you have placed the health and wellbeing of others above yourself. You have demonstrated integrity and leadership in your respect for those around you. You have exemplified the Code of Honor. The training our students learn through speech and debate prepares them for times like these. When they read the news, they are able to evaluate sources, analyze evidence, and develop an informed opinion. As our 2020 National Educator of the Year Christy Briggs says in this issue, “One of the most beautiful things speech and debate does is give students a platform for their voice.” I think the events of the last few weeks have shown this once again to be true. Every day, you train students for their futures. While speech and debate teams across the world have been sidelined, we’ve all been reminded of our role on a larger team—of our obligation to make the right choices for our families, our communities, and beyond. When we return to normalcy, it will be with an understanding of the lessons we have learned about advocacy during this time. Making a difference is not just about your words or your voice, but about your actions. Hundreds of thousands of stories, large and small, will emerge about what members of this community did to help during the pandemic. I thank you. I see you. I’m here for you. I’m inspired by you. We’re all in this together.

Board of Directors ELECTED MEMBERS Pam Cady Wycoff President Minnesota Dr. Tommie Lindsey, Jr. Vice President California Byron R. Arthur Louisiana David Huston Texas Adam J. Jacobi Wisconsin Jennifer M. Jerome Nebraska Renee C. Motter Colorado Timothy E. Sheaff Iowa


APPOINTED MEMBERS Robert Runcie Administrative Representative Florida

J. Scott Wunn Executive Director



401 Railroad Place, West Des Moines, IA 50265-4730 | Phone (920) 748-6206 J. Scott Wunn, Publisher Amy Seidelman, Editor Vicki Pape, Managing Editor Emily Bratton, Graphic Design Assistant

Newsstand Price $9.99 per issue Member Subscription Price $24.99 for one year (5 issues) Non-Member Subscription Price $34.99 for one year (5 issues)

Rostrum (ISSN 1073-5526), Copyright © 2020 by the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA), is published five times per year (Sept., Nov., Feb., Apr., and Aug.) by the NSDA, 401 Railroad Pl., West Des Moines, IA 50265-4730. Business and Editorial Offices: NSDA, 401 Railroad Pl., West Des Moines, IA, 50265-4730. Accounting and Circulation Offices: NSDA, 401 Railroad Pl., West Des Moines, IA 50265-4730. Call (920) 748-6206 to subscribe. Periodicals postage is paid at Des Moines, IA 50318, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Rostrum, c/o NSDA, 401 Railroad Pl., West Des Moines, IA 50265-4730. Rostrum provides a forum for the speech and debate community. The opinions expressed by contributors are their own and not necessarily the opinions of the NSDA, its officers, or its members. The National Speech & Debate Association does not guarantee advertised products and services unless sold directly by the NSDA.



Dr. Mike Edmonds Colorado Wendy Orthman Tennessee Tom Rollins Virginia Monica Silverstein New York

To learn more about the Board, visit www.speechanddebate.org/ meet-the-team. You may also contact the Board by emailing board@speechanddebate.org.


The 2020 Mean Green Comet ONLINE Debate Institute Over the last 20 years UTD and UNT have provided students with exceptional and award-winning staff by bringing together some of the best strategic thinkers and educators from the high school and college debate communities. Those same instructors and their unique curriculum are moving ONLINE to provide a safe, fun, and exciting place for students to learn and grow, bringing the Mean Green Comet experience to your home. Affordable Pricing - We believe debate camp should be accessible to everyone and work to offer affordable opportunities for anyone wishing to attend. No other debate institute offers more for the price. Our NEW ONLINE sessions range from $600.00 - $1,200.00, offering affordable tuition options for every student. Outstanding Curriculum – Instruction will follow our model of lectures, small group breakout sessions, individual coaching sessions, office hours and practice debates/performances. Students will collaborate with each other and staff using Blackboard virtual classrooms for labs and compete against one another using ZOOM and Microsoft Teams platforms. Live, interactive breakout sessions allow students to engage staff in a virtual classroom environment of no more than a 10:1 student to staff ratio, giving students the opportunity to work with staff members at their own pace providing personalized attention and coaching. Exclusive and Dedicated Online Technical Support Available to all MGC students and families will be on-demand technical assistance from a team of ONLINE learning experts so students focus on learning instead of sorting out technical issues before and during the camp sessions.





June 28 - July 18


10 Day

July 8 - July 18


Lincoln-Douglas SESSION



2 Week

June 28 - July 12


LD Debate & Worlds School

June 28 - July 18


Public Forum SESSION


Public Forum

June 28 - July 8


Public Forum & Extemp

June 28 - July 15


Congressional Debate SESSION


Congress Debate

June 28 - July 8


Congress & Extemp

June 28 - July 15


Extemporaneous Speaking SESSION Extemporaneous Speaking



July 8 - July 15

Worlds School Debate SESSION



Worlds School

July 12 - July 18


Oral Interpretation SESSION


Oral Interpretation


July 8 - July 13


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REGISTRATION DEADLINE: JUNE 8 Complete rate and date information available by session at debatecamp.utdallas.edu

In this Issue : V O LU M E 94 : I S SU E 4 : A P R I L / M AY 2020

From the Cover




Governance and Leadership

Letter from the Executive Director


2019-2020 Topics


From Your Board President


News + Notes


Board of Directors Minutes


Resource Roundup


Membership Minute


Tabroom.com Tip


Advocacy Letter

Christy Briggs: Preparing Students to Be Revolutionary

2020 Online National Tournament 16

About the National Tournament, Senior Open, and Middle School Speech Challenge

by Susan M. Knoblauch

Community 28

Another March, Another Amazing Day for Speech and Debate Education!


The Door Is Open: Recruiting Strategies by Erik Dominguez


Congress at the Capitol by Angela Zhong


What Does It Take to Run Tabroom.com?


The Fundraising Season Starts Now


USA Debate: Traveling Abroad, Practicing Online, and How You Can Apply to Join by Anh Cao and Liana Schmitter-Emerson


Words from the Hall by Anita Boyd

Like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/ speechanddebate Share with us on Instagram @speechanddebate Follow us on Twitter @speechanddebate

Recognition 56

Alumni Angles: Alison Epperson


Student Spotlight: Aryaman Sharma


Team Profile: Bak Middle School of the Arts

Follow us on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/company/nationalspeech-and-debate-association

OUR MISSION Rostrum shares best practices, resources, and opportunities that connect, support, and inspire a diverse community of educators committed to empowering students through speech and debate.



The American Legion’s National Oratorical Contest

LOOKING FOR COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS?  LOOK NO FURTHER. The first place finisher of The American Legion’s National Oratorical Contest is awarded a $20,000 scholarship, second place $17,000, and third place $15,000. As part of the National Speech & Debate Association’s ongoing alliance with The American Legion, those top three finishers may also earn the right to compete in Original Oratory or United States Extemporaneous Speaking at the National Speech & Debate Tournament!

Want to get involved? Follow these simple steps! • Visit www.legion.org/oratorical to learn more. • Click on “State Contests” to contact The American Legion Department Headquarters located in your state to learn when the first contest in your area will be. • Also click on “Assigned Topics” to learn the extemporaneous topic areas. • Prepare your original oration on some aspect of the Constitution with emphasis on the duties and obligations of a citizen to our government.

Patrick Junker of Iowa placed first at the 2019 American Legion National Oratorical Contest

Watch examples of past winning orations online at www.legion.org/oratorical/videos.


Current topics, voting links, and resources available at:


www.speechanddebate.org/topics Member students and one chapter advisor per school are eligible to vote!

Send us your suggestions for PF topic areas and LD resolutions! Access the online submission forms by visiting our website:

www.speechanddebate.org/topics 2020 NATIONAL TOURNAMENT


Public Forum Debate Resolution will be released May 1, 2020, at www.speechanddebate.org/topics.

Congressional Debate Legislation The legislation docket will be released at www.speechanddebate.org/topics on May 15, 2020.


Lincoln-Douglas Debate Resolution will be released May 1, 2020, at www.speechanddebate.org/topics.


World Schools Debate Prepared motions will be released May 1, 2020, at www.speechanddebate.org/topics.


Policy Debate

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce Direct Commercial Sales and/ or Foreign Military Sales of arms from the United States.


Extemp Areas for IX, USX, Commentary Topic areas will be released May 1, 2020, at www.speechanddebate.org/topics.



Big Questions Debate


Resolved: Objective morality exists.

Any theme

These and more National Tournament, Senior Open, and Middle School Speech Challenge topics will be made available online at www.speechanddebate.org/topics. Watch our website for details! 6



From Your Board President As author William Arthur Ward once stated, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a gift and not giving it.” If ever there was a time for the Board to express their gratitude to our district leaders, it is now. Year in and year out, our district leaders are the lifelines of our organization. We have 111 districts and more than 550 leaders who “make it happen” at the state and local levels. They volunteer their time, talents, and expertise to facilitate speech and debate for our students and coaches across the country and internationally. Each year they undertake critically important roles that deserve our gratitude. However, the challenges our district leaders have faced this year are unprecedented. So today, it is important that we shine the spotlight on our district leaders to publicly express our gratitude for the vital roles they play in our speech and debate community. First, we thank them for being communicators. From the beginning of the school year to the end of the season, and probably in between, district chairs and committee members are the “human hotline” for communications. Whether it’s writing regular newsletters, sending out tournament information, answering questions about procedures, or informing coaches about new rules, they are at the center of



internal district communications. Externally, district leaders serve as advocates for the views of coaches in their area. They are often the ones who are most engaged with membership surveys, forums, and communications with the national office and Board. We appreciate their gift of communication and advocacy. Second, we thank them for being community builders and coordinators. Whether it’s welcoming new programs or offering workshops for new coaches, they take the lead at the local level. These leaders are at the center of tournament planning and administration. They set tournament dates, secure site locations, work with hosts regarding food and logistics, and prepare tabulation software for registration and management. They hire judges, order specialty awards, and manage finances. They implement guidelines for inclusivity to insure a welcoming environment for students and coaches. They seek out nominations for student, coach, and administrator awards to celebrate the accomplishments of our members. We appreciate their many efforts to shape, manage, and enhance our community. Third, we thank them for being creative problem solvers. In a regular season, unexpected problems are anticipated. Weather related tournament cancellations, changes

in room availability, changes in registration, and no-show judges are a given. They deal with it. Protests may arise that require careful information gathering and fair adjudication. They take care of it. However, 2020 and the ramifications of COVID-19 present unprecedented challenges for our district leaders and community as a whole—but that has not stopped our district leaders from finding solutions. They have worked diligently and creatively to address those challenges and meet the needs of our members. Leaders from 60 districts created an alternate method for designating their district’s national qualifiers. They met as committees, consulted coaches, shared their ideas online, collaborated with other district leaders and, ultimately, learned from and mentored one another. All of this took place while everything within their workplace, classroom, team, home, and life was anything but normal. We thank them for their diligence, ingenuity, sacrifice, and heart in the face of adversity. It was JFK who said, “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” District leaders always have made and continually are making a difference in the lives of our students, coaches, and community as a whole. On behalf of the Board and our members, THANK YOU for YOUR LEADERSHIP— now, and in the future! To be continued...

Pam Cady Wycoff NSDA Board President pam.wycoff@speechanddebate.org


Leadership Board of Directors Minutes


he NSDA Board of Directors held its March virtual meeting on March 9, 2020. In attendance were President Pam Cady Wycoff, Vice President Dr. Tommie Lindsey, Jr., Byron Arthur, Dr. Mike Edmonds, David Huston, Adam J. Jacobi, Jennifer Jerome, Renee Motter, Tom Rollins, Robert Runcie, Timothy Sheaff, and Monica Silverstein. President Wycoff called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m.

EQUITY AND INCLUSION Moved by Lindsey, seconded by Silverstein: “Approve the proposed Equity Statement.” Passed: 13-0 (Wycoff, Lindsey, Arthur, Edmonds, Huston, Jacobi, Jerome, Motter, Rollins, Runcie, Sheaff, Silverstein) The Board conducted an earlier online vote March 2, 2020, to adopt the NSDA Equity Statement in conjunction with National Speech and Debate Education Day. The Board would like to thank everyone who worked on creating this foundational document for our organization. The complete statement is available on page 13.

March 9, 2020

The Board reviewed and discussed proposed revisions to the NSDA Mission and Vision Statements to ensure alignment with the organization’s five core values of Equity, Integrity, Respect, Leadership, and Service. The rationale for the current statements was shared in a document along with a survey asking the Board for feedback on potential adjustments that culminated in revisions by Board and staff. Updated Mission: The National Speech & Debate Association connects, supports, and inspires a diverse community committed to empowering students through speech and debate. Updated Vision: We envision a world in which every school provides speech and debate programs to foster each student’s communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creative skills.

GOVERNANCE Appointed Board Members

MISSION AND VISION STATEMENTS Moved by Arthur, seconded by Rollins: “Approve the revised NSDA mission statement as presented.” Passed: 10-0 (Wycoff, Lindsey, Arthur, Edmonds, Huston, Jacobi, Jerome, Motter, Rollins, Sheaff) Moved by Edmonds, seconded by Jacobi: “Approve the revised NSDA vision statement as presented.” Passed: 10-0-1 Aye: Wycoff, Lindsey, Arthur, Edmonds, Huston, Jacobi, Jerome, Motter, Rollins, Silverstein Abstain: Sheaff

The seat for appointed Board member Wendy Orthman will become vacant on July 31, 2020. The Board is targeting a vote to approve a candidate for the seat at the May Board meeting. The term for the appointed Board seat is August 1, 2020, through July 31, 2022. The Governance Committee reviewed Board needs and agreed that talents and expertise in the area of public relations, marketing, and development ought to remain the priority for this seat. Board members were asked to complete a form recommending potential candidates. (continued on next page)



During executive session, the Board agreed to offer Robert Runcie a one-year extension of his appointed administrative representative seat, completing a four-year tenure. The Board welcomed Robert Runcie and thanked him for his ongoing and continued service.

Increased development and alumni giving; 3) Establish an economically sustainable model to maintain and develop Tabroom.com as a membership service; 4) Increase demand for and use of NSDA resources by members and partners.

Committee Size and Scope Best Practices


Moved by Lindsey, seconded by Huston: “Approve the Committee Size and Scope Best Practices document as proposed by the Governance Committee.” Passed: 11-0 (Wycoff, Lindsey, Arthur, Edmonds, Huston, Jacobi, Jerome, Motter, Rollins, Sheaff, Silverstein)

Moved by Rollins, seconded by Sheaff: “Meet Monday, March 30, 2020, at 6:30 p.m. to discuss potential next steps regarding hosting the National Tournament in light of COVID-19 concerns.” Passed: 12-0 (Wycoff, Lindsey, Arthur, Edmonds, Huston, Jacobi, Jerome, Motter, Rollins, Runcie, Sheaff, Silverstein)

The Governance Committee has further developed best practice guidelines regarding the size and scope of standing committees (Governance, Development, Finance, and Rules Revision and Evaluation) as well as Board roles in conjunction with ad hoc committees and working groups. The proposal was initially presented for review at the December Board meeting, then underwent online feedback and revision by the Governance Committee. The best practices will be fully implemented by fall of 2020.

STRATEGIC PLAN AND EXECUTION Moved by Jerome, seconded by Motter: “Approve the second quarter Strategic Plan report as presented by the Executive Director and Assistant Executive Director.” Passed: 11-0 (Wycoff, Lindsey, Arthur, Edmonds, Huston, Jacobi, Jerome, Motter, Rollins, Sheaff, Silverstein) Assistant Executive Director Amy Seidelman presented an overview of second quarter updates and answered questions from the Board. The Strategic Plan goals include five priorities: 1) Reach More Students; 2) Support More Schools; 3) Drive Inclusive Participation; 4) Earn Loyalty; and 5) Strive for Stability.

FINANCIAL REPORT Moved by Rollins, seconded by Arthur: “Accept the second quarter Financial Report as presented by the Executive Director and Director of Business and Finance.” Passed: 11-0 (Wycoff, Lindsey, Arthur, Edmonds, Huston, Jacobi, Jerome, Motter, Rollins, Sheaff, Silverstein) Director of Business and Finance Laura Stein presented an overview of second quarter updates and answered questions from the Board. To ensure fiscal responsibility, four target areas are addressed: 1) Keep operating expenses below operating revenues to annually contribute to our reserves for protection against unexpected shortfalls; 2)



Executive Director Scott Wunn led a preliminary discussion of initial preparations related to potential COVID-19 health crisis management. The NSDA is taking proactive steps to monitor the coronavirus situation, gather additional information, assess key factors involved, and offer recommendations. Members are encouraged to watch our website for additional resources and updates about coronavirus and the National Tournament at www. speechanddebate.org/coronavirus. The NSDA Board made a plan to reconvene online March 30 to receive an update from Executive Director Wunn and further discuss the situation. At that time, next steps will be determined, which could range from requests for additional information, targeted actions, establishing the next meeting to further assess this situation, and/ or a final decision about the status of the tournament.

PEDAGOGY COMMITTEE UPDATE Board committee liaison Renee Motter praised the work of the committee thus far. She highlighted their focus on developing materials centered on the 4 C’s (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity), which are widely accepted in academic circles. Discussions are ongoing and the “living document” being created has tremendous potential for informing, educating, and training new coaches, judges, administrators, and other key stakeholders on the educational benefits of speech and debate events.

MEMBERSHIP CORRESPONDENCE Correspondence submitted to the Board prior to its meeting was reviewed. Each issue was addressed and targeted to a relevant Board subcommittee for further consideration.

Appointed members left the meeting.

Changing the Student Service Point System for Modernization and Simplification


Moved by Jacobi, seconded by Motter: “Accept the proposal to modernize and simplify the student service point system.” Passed: 8-0 (Wycoff, Lindsey, Arthur, Huston, Jacobi, Jerome, Motter, Sheaff)

Allow Appointed Adult Representatives to File Protests Moved by Huston, seconded by Jerome: “Accept the proposal to allow appointed adult representatives to file protests at districts and the National Tournament.” Passed: 7-0-1 Aye: Wycoff, Lindsey, Arthur, Huston, Jacobi, Jerome, Motter Abstain: Sheaff Given that the official school advisor may not be on site during the tournament, this allows the school approved appointed coach on site to facilitate protests. The adult representatives of the school must be approved by the school administration. Clarification of Internet Rules for 2021-2022 Implementation Moved by Jerome, seconded by Huston: “Accept the proposal to clarify the pilot internet rules.” Passed: 8-0 (Wycoff, Lindsey, Arthur, Huston, Jacobi, Jerome, Motter, Sheaff) The Board adopted minor changes to the pilot internet rules that will go into effect for districts using the pilot internet rules and at the 2021 National Tournament. The changes clarify that competitors within a round are permitted to use the internet to communicate. This allows debaters to communicate via email chain to their opponents and judges, including allowance for communication within a Congress chamber. Increasing the Minimum Points Received in a Speech Round Moved by Jacobi, seconded by Jerome: “Postpone the vote on increasing the minimum points received in a speech round until the Spring Board meeting.” Passed: 8-0 (Wycoff, Lindsey, Arthur, Huston, Jacobi, Jerome, Motter, Sheaff) Traditionally, points are awarded on a graduating scale based on rank. The proposal would change minimum points per competition speech round to three, aligning to points per loss in debate, giving greater validation for speakers’ performances and fostering parity among contestants in different types of events. The Board asked staff to gather additional data on how the proposed changes might affect awarding degrees prior to voting on this item in May.

This change promotes the value of service in the organization and respects the coaches’ integrity to determine the merit of service activities. It allows the coach to have greater autonomy to determine the merit of events, reduces the number of people in a required audience to five, keeps the limit of points per year to 200, and provides an expanded list of options to encourage service opportunities. Congress Alternates at Districts Moved by Motter, seconded by Jacobi: “Accept the proposal to expand the Congress alternates system at districts.” Passed: 8-0 (Wycoff, Lindsey, Arthur, Huston, Jacobi, Jerome, Motter, Sheaff) In all events, the top 14 students are considered qualifiers or alternates, which includes all finalists and semifinalists. In an event with 25 entries, more than half of the students entered are either qualifiers or alternates. However, in Congress, especially the House, if there are 80 entries, only 17.5% of the entries have the honor of being qualifiers or alternates. Given double entry in events, the previous number of designated alternates may be exhausted. This proposal allows every person in a Congress final round (if held) to be considered for the alternates list. If no final round is held, the top 14 remain qualifiers and alternates. This change will go into effect for the 2020-2021 district tournament series. Lincoln-Douglas Debate Speaker Awards Moved by Arthur, seconded by Huston: “Accept the proposal to add Lincoln-Douglas speaker awards at the National Tournament.” Passed: 8-0 (Wycoff, Lindsey, Arthur, Huston, Jacobi, Jerome, Motter, Sheaff) Previously, LD speakers have not been recognized because it was an individual event and there was no sponsor to support trophies for such an award. A sponsor has come forward. Although LD is an individual debate event, this is an additional, valuable opportunity to recognize high school students for their skills. In LD, the top 14 debaters based upon preliminary round speaker



points (dropping high and low) will receive speaker awards. The rules parallel the ones used to determine Policy Debate speaker award recipients. This change will take effect at the 2020 National Tournament. Oral Interp Ad Hoc Committee Update Board liaison Jennifer Jerome commended the committee for their excellent work thus far on issues regarding publication rules and adaptation of material. The ad hoc committee is compiling a shared document for committee members to offer further feedback and finalize recommendations to be brought forth for review and discussion at the May Board meeting. Lincoln-Douglas Focus Group Moved by Huston, seconded by Jerome: “Affirm the proposed process for implementation of ordinal balloting in LD topic selection.” Passed: 8-0 (Wycoff, Lindsey, Arthur, Huston, Jacobi, Jerome, Motter, Sheaff) The Board reviewed the committee’s recommendation for an ordinal voting system that also accommodates for resolution priorities during the year. The proposal is an extension of the motion passed last spring and is a clarification of the process recommended by the committee.

The group also held a discussion about the current Affirmative speaker times in LD, potential adjustments, and the perception of negative bias related to current Affirmative speaker time allocations. The group discussed the validity of conducting further analysis of data on this topic, but there was not enough consensus to formally begin further study at this time. The potential for future additional discussions by the community about the event was suggested by some members of the committee. No formal event-specific rule recommendations were proposed. Unified Manual Working Group Update Executive Director Scott Wunn updated the Board on progress made thus far, including conversations with Bob Ickes, a professional editor, on strategy and next steps for tackling the overhaul in three primary sections. The group continues to offer valuable feedback via a shared document and will have more to report at the May Board meeting. Moved by Lindsey, seconded by Arthur: “Adjourn.” Passed: 8-0 (Wycoff, Lindsey, Arthur, Huston, Jacobi, Jerome, Motter, Sheaff) The Board adjourned at 9:35 p.m.

QUESTIONS? CONCERNS? IDEAS? We want to hear from you! Send your feedback to board@speechanddebate.org.



The National Speech & Debate Association connects, supports, and inspires a diverse community committed to empowering students through speech and debate.

We envision a world in which every school provides speech and debate programs to foster each student’s communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creative skills.










The National Speech & Debate Association is committed to modeling and fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion for all speech and debate communities. We are continuously transforming our organization to reflect and operationalize the values of equity, integrity, respect, leadership, and service. We will take responsibility. We will heed, learn, and evolve. We will work conscientiously to model and foster an inclusive and equitable speech and debate experience for all.



www.speechanddebate.org /mission


3-TIME NATIONAL CHAMPIONS 2016, 2018, 2019 Pi Kappa Delta Debate Champions


Speech events




Styles of debate

To learn more about speech and debate at Simpson, email spencer.waugh@simpson.edu


GDS WILL BE FULLY ONLINE SUMMER 2020 www.gdsdebate.com

The Global Debate Symposium has the most experienced staff of any workshop in the United States with some of the best active teachers and coaches in the activity. The senior staff utilizes this expertise to construct a rigorous curriculum that respects the diverse learning styles of teenagers as they mentor younger staff to transition from outstanding debaters to instructors.


. . . . . . June 28 - July 11


– Lincoln-Douglas Debate – Kritik Lab Wishing all the best for our students and teachers in the upcoming school year!

AT GDS WE PRACTICE: X Superior Curriculum and Instruction X Argument Engagement, Not Evasion X Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Competence

Visit our website for more information:


– Congressional Debate – World Schools Debate

June 28 - July 18


2020 Nationals Overview Now an Online Tournament During times of crisis, the National Tournament’s mission is even more essential. Speech and debate provides comfort and strength to students. The National Tournament’s platform allows students to share their stories and speak up on the issues they care about, and that platform cannot be abandoned. We remain dedicated to connecting, supporting, and inspiring a diverse community committed to empowering students through speech and debate. That mission leads us to the decision to elevate student voices this year through an online National Tournament June 14-20, 2020. We know the National Tournament is an important capstone experience to the speech and debate season for many coaches and competitors. We understand how disappointed many seniors are, and finding closure for their high school speech and debate careers is very important to us. As such, as part of the National Tournament celebration, we will hold a Senior Open event, where all member seniors who are not entered in National Tournament main events may participate one last time May 30-31, 2020. Finally, we will host an online Middle School Speech Challenge to honor the growth and achievements of our middle school competitors. We remain committed to helping middle school students continue to share their stories, as they are the future of this organization.

Visit www.speechanddebate.org/nationals for complete tournament information including procedures, schedules, and a list of frequently asked questions.

! ou y k Than

We look forward to a successful online event—with your help!



Will the National Tournament go back to Albuquerque at some point? We hope so! We’ve talked with the local host committee and city officials and are excited to return to Albuquerque as soon as we can. • Find more FAQs on our website at www.speechanddebate.org/nationals.

Thank You to Our Sponsors! P L AT I N U M L E V E L


Arthur N. Rupe f oun dati on A N R F

Creative Solutions for Societal Issues










Senior Open

ONLINE national tournament

Middle school speech CHALLENGE ROSTRUM | APRIL/MAY 2020



NEWS + NOTES Academic All American Award Point Requirements Adjusted for COVID-19

Cast Your Ballot: Board of Directors Election Ends May 1

Due to the shortened seasons seniors are facing, we’ve lowered the point requirement for the Academic All American Award for the Class of 2020 from 750 points to 650 points. Students with at least 650 points will not be flagged on your account as AAA eligible, but you can nominate seniors seniors at that level who meet the other requirements. Visit our website at www.speechanddebate.org/aaa to learn more.

Help select the leaders of our organization! Each member school shall vote for up to four candidates in our biennial Board of Directors election. To vote online, one advisor per school may log in to their NSDA Account at www.speechanddebate.org/account and select NSDA Voting from the left side menu. Voting concludes May 1, 2020. Your participation is important!

Plan a Virtual Team Banquet Advocacy Webinar Recording In this webinar, Membership Manager Annie Reisener shares how to use NDSA resources to advocate for speech and debate programs. Access the 30-minute recording online at www.speechanddebate.org/nsda-advocacy-webinar. You can also download the PowerPoint presenation used.

Middle School Coach and Administrator Award Nominations Recognize deserving middle school coaches and administrators in your area! All entries are automatically considered for the national awards. Nominations are due May 1, 2020. • Middle School Coach of the Year Award • Middle School Administrator of the Year Award

You can find the online nomination forms at www.speechanddebate.org/coach-recognition and www.speechanddebate.org/school-recognition.

Looking for a way to wrap up your season online and celebrate your seniors? Check out our guide to virtual banquets including sample schedules, templates for team superlative certificates, NSDA themed backgrounds, gifts for seniors, and more at www.speechanddebate.org/virtual-team-banquets.

Hired Judging Board Each year, schools hire experienced judges to fulfill their National Tournament judging obligation. To facilitate this process for the online 2020 National Tournament, we’ve created a Hired Judging Board where coaches can connect with folks interesting in judging. Visit www.speechanddebate.org/nationals2020-hired-judging-board to get started.

Questions? We’re here to help! Email info@speechanddebate.org or call (920) 748-6206. 20



SPEECH AND DEBATE COACHING ENDORSEMENT The first available level, the Speech and Debate Coaching Endorsement, is open to anyone who is an active NSDA coach member and may be completed online at one’s own pace. As part of this endorsement, one will take a variety of professional development courses via NSDA’s professional development platform NSDA Learn and the National Federation of State High School Associations’ online learning center, NFHS Learn.

The requirements for this foundational endorsement are: Active paid NSDA Coach’s Membership Successful Completion of the Intro to NSDA Coaching Course on NSDA Learn (1 Hour) Successful Completion of the following NFHSLearn Courses: Adjudicating Speech and Debate (3 Hours) Understanding Copyright and Compliance (3 Hours) Protecting Students from Abuse (1 Hour) Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (3 Hours) Bullying, Hazing, and Inappropriate Behaviors (3 Hours) Engaging Effectively With Parents (3 Hours)

When a coach has met each of the requirements, they may apply for the endorsement. As part of the application process, coaches are asked to upload completion certificates for each course and pay a $25 fee. Processing takes approximately two weeks and applicants will be notified of their approval status via email. Visit the link below to access the necessary courses and the application process. Active coach members who have previously earned an NSDA accreditation may, upon completing the required courses, apply for this endorsement for free. Anyone interested in doing so should contact Lauren McCool at lauren.mccool@speechanddebate.org before applying.

Visit www.speechanddebate.org/professional-development to apply!


JACQUELINE WEI Plano West Sr. High School, TX – Class of 2019 2018 and 2019 United States Extemp national champion

W E A R E S P E E C H & D E B AT E www.speechanddebate.org



Diversity and Inclusion Posters and Competitive Event Resources

National Speech National Speech

Nation al Speech

• updated 2/18/20 & Debate Association • updated 2/18/20

& Debate Association

& Debate


2/18/2 • update d




re you looking for resources to advance your commitment to diversity and inclusion across all of your events? You now can find all of our diversity and inclusion focused Extemp questions, Impromptu prompts, and Congress legislation in one place! These resources are sourced from a variety of perspectives and are ever-evolving.


Celebrate Diversity on Your Team! May marks the start of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and June is Pride Month! Check out our themed poster series for May and June featuring alumni and coaches to decorate your school or classroom. These collections join our existing collections for Black History

J. P. McCaskey High School

Speech and Debate Coach, www.spe echandd ebate.or


, PA – Class of 1984

Southern Lehigh High School,



Month, Women’s History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. To navigate to a given collection or to access the resources above, visit www.speechanddebate.org/ inclusion.

Even if school is not in session, you can share our materials with students to help keep them motivated and engaged until the fall. Ask students to browse the available posters for any celebratory month and find a quotation they relate to and share why, or invite them to use our poster template to create their own!

Find more resources online at www.speechanddebate.org/inclusion




How to Enter Congress Points Get started with these tips from the national office!


here are many different ways to hold a Congressional Debate tournament. Many states and leagues have their own norms and rules, but when it comes to calculating NSDA merit points for students who have competed in Congress, there are only two approved methods. One is based upon speech scores and the other is based upon final placement.

Tournament Placement Method For students who place at a tournament, coaches may use their final placement as a method for determining the student’s points. If a student places first, they earn 24 points per day of competition. If they place second, they earn 23 points per day of competition. If a coach does not know a student’s final placement in the tournament, then the coach should not use this method for calculating points.

If a student gave three stellar speeches in the session, earning two 5s and a 6, their points for that session would be 16. If a student gave three below average speeches, which were each scored a 2, and one stellar speech which was scored a 6, they’d earn 12 points. A student must speak or serve as the presiding officer in order to earn points. At some tournaments speech scores are not provided and/or not shared with the competitors. If a coach does not know the student’s speech scores, then the coach should not use this method for calculating points.

Speech Scores and Tabroom.com

Speech Score Method

As more and more tournaments are utilizing Tabroom.com in Congressional Debate, there are a few steps that tournament tab staff should take to insure that coaches are able to accurately calculate points. These steps will also insure that auto posted Congressional Debate points are accurate. While speech scores aren’t needed to determine a winner, it is key for auto posting points accurately. When Using Paper Ballots

At many tournaments, in addition to being ranked at the end of the round, students are given a score for each speech they give. Typically, students earn 1-6 points per speech or per complete hour of presiding (so a panel of judge scores must be averaged). When a 6-point scale is not awarded, use the following conversion table: 24


As you manually enter a judge’s ballot, you have several tabs of options:

Entry will ask for the ranks each judge assigned. The Pts tab is where speech scores are entered.

When Using Digital Ballots Each judge is asked, during the round, to assign speech scores as they judge the session. To access (or edit these scores, if needed), click the room of the round in question, then on the right side of the screen click on the yellow rectangle that reads View/Edit Results.

When the next screen opens, click on Ballot Entry Screen.

There you will have access to the Pts tab, which allows tab staff to add and/or edit speech scores (as seen above). How to Post Speech Scores To support accurate point entry, the NSDA encourages tab staff to make speech scores public. To do so, under the Results tab, click on Reports, and then click on Print next to Congress Speech Scores. Then, either post this PDF or provide it to coaches through another means.

Frequently Asked Questions: There is a student who did not place and we don’t know their speech scores. What should we do? First, contact the tournament director and request that they publish the speech scores using the method outlined earlier. If the tournament director does not have access to the speech scores, please contact the national office for next steps. What if a student’s speech scores equal more than 24 points per day? Students (at non-district tournaments) may only earn 24 points per day, regardless of the number of speeches given or sessions completed. What if I find that another coach has entered points incorrectly for their students? If you do not feel comfortable addressing this issue with the coach in question, please email us at info@ speechanddebate.org or call the national office at (920) 748-6206 and we’ll assist you as discreetly as possible. Please keep in mind, it is generally a mistake— not cheating—when points are entered incorrectly. My district/state/league has always calculated Congress points differently. That may be true, but the methods described above are the only approved methods detailed in the Unified Manual. If you have questions about the approved processes, please don’t hesitate to contact the national office.




TABROOM.COM TIP: Entering Judges for the 2020 National Tournament The 2020 Online National Tournament judge obligation has changed! Here’s what you need to know.

Log in to your account at www.tabroom.com to get started.

What’s Changed?

Instead of entry numbers being used to determine a number of rounds owed, entry numbers will be used to determine a number of days owed. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of the tournament (plus Saturday for Extemp Debate only) are each considered one day. A judge who is covering one day of LD judging will be available to judge all LD rounds held on a single day of the tournament. One judge can cover up to three days of judging for a school.

LD, PF, and CX obligations must be covered by a schoolprovided judge. Speech, Congress, and Supplemental Event days may be bought out at a price of $120 per day. Judges from any event pool may be chosen to cover a school’s supplemental event obligation.

How do you know when your judging obligation has been met in Tabroom.com? Look for the green checkmark on the General tab of your tournament registration!

Encourage judges to fill out the diversity questionnaire in Tabroom.com so our pools can be as representative of our community as possible! Judges can fill out this questionnaire, nominate themselves to judge late elimination rounds, and fill out their LD and Policy paradigms by logging into Tabroom.com and clicking National Speech and Debate Tournament under Judging.


In a virtual tournament model, it’s even more important that your school and judges take advantage of the unique features designed to keep you informed on Tabroom.com! Review the “Using Online Ballots on Tabroom.com” handout to learn how to get your judges signed up for online ballots, tournament notifications, and alerts for topic release and pairings!

Similar to the previous requirement that a school covers a minimum of six rounds with a schoolprovided judge, each school is required to cover a minimum of two judge days in any event to be eligible to compete in the National Tournament.


OUR GOALS – simplify judging requirements, ease the number of days a judge must commit to being online, and ensure we have enough judges to give students a high quality competition experience.

Find this handout at www.speechanddebate.org/ using-online-ballots-on-tabroom-com

Learn More! To read about

Tabroom.com features and support, visit http://docs.tabroom.com.










(left and right) Arizona’s Desert Ridge High School presented their events all over their campus to CELEBRATING EDUCATORS. INSPIRING STUDENTS. TRANSFORMING TOMORROW. celebrate. • (middle) The Miramar High “Debatriots” from Florida visited classrooms to perform and tell their peers how participating in speech and There are many ways your team can celebrate National Speech and Debate Education Day! We’ve outlined some ideas for your team to debate has changed their lives.



Another Amazing NATIONALMarch, SPEECH Another AND DEBATE EDUCATION DAY — MARCH 6, 2020 Day for Speech and Debate Education!


make this day extra special below, but how you celebrate this day is totally up to you!

We have outlined some suggested steps below which will assist you in the development of your participation plans for National Spe and Debate Education (NSDE) Day. Get others involved now so that you can make plans for a great celebration!





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Save the Date!



SENATE RESOLUTION 520—DESIGNATING MARCH 6, 2020, AS ‘‘NATIONAL SPEECH AND DEBATE EDUCATION DAY” Mr. GRASSLEY (for himself, Mr. COONS, Ms. ERNST, Ms. KLOBUCHAR, Mr. CRAPO, Mr. DURBIN, Mr. BRAUN, Mr. KING, Ms. WARREN, and Mr. COTTON) S. RES. 520 Whereas it is essential for youth to learn and practice the art of communicating with and without technology; Whereas speech and debate education offers students myriad forms of public speaking through which students may develop talent and exercise unique voice and character; Whereas speech and debate education gives students the 21st-century skills of communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration; Whereas critical analysis and effective communication allow important ideas, texts, and philosophies the opportunity to flourish; Whereas personal, professional, and civic interactions are enhanced by the ability of the participants in those interactions to listen, concur, question, and dissent with reason and compassion; Whereas students who participate in speech and debate have chosen a challenging activity that requires regular practice, dedication, and hard work; Whereas teachers and coaches of speech and debate devote in-school, afterschool, and weekend hours to equip students with lifechanging skills and opportunities; Whereas National Speech and Debate Education Day emphasizes the lifelong impact of providing people of the United States with the confidence and preparation to both discern and share views; Whereas National Speech and Debate Education Day acknowledges that most achievements, celebrations, commemorations, and pivotal moments in modern history begin, end, or are crystallized with public address; Whereas National Speech and Debate Education Day recognizes that learning to research, construct, and present an argument is integral to personal advocacy, social movements, and the making of public policy; Whereas the National Speech & Debate Association, in conjunction with national and local partners, honors and celebrates the importance of speech and debate through National Speech and Debate Education Day; and Whereas National Speech and Debate Education Day emphasizes the importance of speech and debate education and the integration of speech and debate education across grade levels and disciplines: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate— (1) designates March 6, 2020, as ‘‘National Speech and Debate Education Day’’; (2) strongly affirms the purposes of National Speech and Debate Education Day; and (3) encourages educational institutions, businesses, community and civic associations, and all people of the United States to celebrate and promote National Speech and Debate Education Day.


THE DOOR IS OPEN: Recruiting Strategies by Erik Dominguez


was fortunate enough to have my first teaching and coaching job at a school that already had a speech and debate team established. It was a relatively new school and a new program, and I had lofty goals and high expectations. My first meeting with the team consisted of six students. They were excited, motivated, and ready to dive right in! But we knew we had to have more on the team to reach our goals. We brainstormed every possible way we could spread the message loud and clear that we were here, that we were fun, and that we wanted others to be part of our journey! What we came up with that first meeting evolved into some tremendous strategies that made speech and debate a part of the norm and culture of the school. This resource shares with you some of those strategies in hopes you can grow your team for your goals!




What are your recruiting goals? Recruiting and retaining students does not happen by accident. Too often I heard coaches “hope” for students to join the team, using phrases like “We just didn’t get the number of students we hoped for” or “We have a lot of seniors this year, so we hope to get a big freshmen class next year.” I believe that is defeatist thinking. You cannot hope students into joining the activity as much as you cannot hope them into a final round. While obvious, it must be said: you will get out of recruiting what you put into it, and hope is not an effective strategy. Before going on, I have to make this important clarification: Whatever your recruiting goals are for your team, they are perfect. If you want to have a team of two students—great! If you want to have a team of

two hundred students— great! Set that recruiting goal based off of team infrastructure, resources, and, above all, the personal and professional health of you and your coaches. This resource is not intended to favor larger teams and demean smaller teams. It is meant to give you the strategies to meet the recruiting goals that you set for yourself.

What is your group called? Do your actions reflect that title? Are you a club or are you a team? There is nothing wrong with clubs. There are all sorts of fun clubs that students can join to help them feel connected! However, a club implies minor responsibilities and attendance; it is easier to skip a club meeting or activity for whatever reason. A team implies a much deeper sense of commitment. But it is not enough to simply have “team” in

your title. Do you have your practice schedules already set? Do you have a way to train novices? Do you have a calendar of tournaments? Do you have practice expectations and times? Do you have expectations of work that a student must complete before attending a tournament? Do you have a process by which a student is redirected when they are not on track? All of these, again, may seem obvious, but if you do not have them set before you recruit, you will quickly bleed some of the new students that you do get through the door. Public speaking is already terrifying for most novices, and a “we will go with it” mentality just does not jibe with some of our more apprehensive students.

Do you have season goals set out? How high is the bar? Point blank: the higher you set the bar, the more

students you will recruit. If you play into the defeatist attitude and “hope” you have a successful season, that hope will produce fizzled, inconsistent results. Set a goal, and be loud about that goal. Students (really, everyone) want to be part of something great, meaningful, lasting. Again, all goals are great— you do not have to shoot for the state championship trophy. But you can set a goal that all students will reach elimination rounds at the state tournament. Or that all students will get a certain number of NSDA points/degrees. Or that all students will perform at the end of the year showcase. Whatever the goal you and your team set is perfect. But set it, shout it from the rooftop, and invite others to join you to crush it.


Create a campaign and launch it in full capacity. Recruiting is nothing short of creating a fullblown campaign for your

team. You need a team motto, recruiting motto (this can change from year to year), and multimedia resources. It is not enough to simply put something in the announcement section. Sure, you will get one or two students who are already looking for you. But the reality is, most students ignore the announcements. So, you need to be creative as to how you reach them. Your mantra for your campaign should be “love us or hate us, join us or not— they will know about us!” Appeal to different learners. As educators, we are aware of appealing to different learners. Recruiting is no different. You should create posters to place around your school, develop a well-crafted recruiting video that can be played and shared among students’ social media, organize a booth at the activities fair, have current students ask their teachers if they can give a two- or threeminute presentation on the speech team in some of their other classes. All of these elements certainly take a lot of work, especially

at the outset. But most of them can be reused or revised from year to year, decreasing your workload and increasing your recruiting numbers. All of these ideas really depend on your school and team resources. Sometimes you need to be creative with how to reach students. Here are some strategies I have seen work tremendously well in the past: Take advantage of orientation day. Most schools have a new student/transfer student orientation day. Ask if you can give a two- or threeminute presentation to them on the benefits of speech and debate. As new students are taking tours, have students performing their events in various areas of the school and handing out flyers. Offer snacks for speech, donuts for debate. This should not be your opening meeting, but lead up to your opening meeting. Get some snacks and donuts and set up shop somewhere in the

school (before or after). The “price” of the treat is students need to listen to you (or your students!) give a two- or three-minute pitch on joining the team. Gain advocates in your colleagues. This is a year-long strategy, but an effective one. Work with your administration to see how you can showcase students during staff meetings depending on the topic of the meeting. The more the staff at your school can see the incredible skills we develop, they will become recruiters for you! Talk to your athletic director. Yes, you read that correctly. Talk to your athletic director and partner with them to see how you can help students who may not have found a fit, or may have lost their fit, in athletics. So many students have that competitive fire, but they didn’t make the dance team or football

Team Recruit ment Strateg ies: BUILDING YO UR PROGRA M While speech and debate

activities provide participates, many an enormous potenti successful program students do not realize it! For al benefit for every student this reason, recruitm . Every school who students your ent is necessa team can accomm is different, so consider the ry to build a culture odate (aim high!). Make that number of the school and decide how many your goal.


Create a Team



If your school has a website, talk with the webmast creating a space for er about membership roster, your team. The team site can include your mission, a school forms, news/pre tournament calendar, a team/ ss releases on the and most importan success of the tly, your contact will also be a great information. This team, asset to keep all website abreast of the faculty and administr happenings of ators your team.

Social Media

Another great opportunity to communicate with is through social media. As always, stakeholders for information check with your on specific policies school social media. A and procedures team Twitter, Facebook for using be a great way , or Instagram could to communicate important dates, results, and engage provide your community comfortable with in a platform they live these days. are more

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Work out your schedule so you every single English or select students can classroom for a about speech and 3-minute recruitme enter debate. This speech nt speech students intereste is designed to d make the debate. You might in either you or the concept of speech and do this over the Wednesday so course of a Tuesday you can members on Thursday have an informational meeting and for new after school. It occurs during the first week. In the is important that this can visit feeder spring, you or your schools to pitch students your program for in the fall. participation

Hang Recruitm

ent Posters

Spread the word around school for Hispanic Heritage with testimon Month, Black History ial-style posters Pride Month or Month, and create with our free template posters featuring members of your team . Larger scale versions purchase as a set are available for through the NSDA Store.

Write a Letter

Since effective oral and written components in verbal skills are necessary speech and debate recruitment is competition, one to send a letter to all of your English idea for is a way to recruit classes. This students who are already making and have sufficient good grades writing skills that and debate competit are imperative in speech ion. Also, many out letters the established teams year prior for the send upcoming season. teachers in the humanities are In general, great allies for Figure 1 a sample your program. letter that could See be formatted to school. use at your — Figure 1: Sample Recruitment Letter

Recruitment Assistan

ce from

Teachers During the first few “teacher only” or end of each days, and at the semester, email beginning all of the English them for a list teachers of students they feel ought to consider and ask and debate. Describe speech looking for. Encourag for them the type of student you’re e them to mention their students, speech and debate as well—and don’t to teachers and tell forget to go back them, “We owe to those a feel they were somehow responsib lot to you!” If teachers of a student who le for the future success came into the program because encouragement, of their they will be yours for life.

National Speech

& Debate Associat





www.speechanddebate.org/team-recruitment-strategies ROSTRUM | APRIL/MAY 2020


team—or they simply have an injury that prevents them from playing at this time. The competitive aspect of our activity is usually very appealing to these students and can be their temporary (or permanent) outlet. Talk to your intervention coordinator. Same as above! Find the students who are struggling the most in school, academically or behaviorally. So often these students are frustrated with the system because they have no outlet for their ideas and emotions; they want to be seen and heard. Partner with your principal/intervention coordinator and give these students a platform where they can shine! Set up shop in the cafeteria, then move the cafeteria to a smaller space. Eat lunch in the student cafeteria. Yes, you might need some pain reliever from the punishment your ears will take from the volume. But observe the students who may be sitting alone, the group of students who are apprehensive about being in the cafeteria, the students who are seeking attention to themselves, and especially the students



who may be bullied or picked on. Talk to them. Invite them to a better space for them. You can do this with or without recruiting. You can create a “lunch” club where the only objective is a fun, safe space to have lunch. You can have discussion topics, games, or anything engaging of the sort. Once you build that relationship and get to know these students more, you can extend that invitation further to let them share their voice in our activity.

Host an experience and hit the ground running. All of this work should be focused on a date, place, and time. This should not be a meeting. This should not be an event. This should be an experience, a performance—and a grand one. Again, love you or hate you, they will at least know about you and what you do. How you create the experience is up to you, but here are some guidelines and activities that I found very helpful: • Play pre-meeting music. No one likes coming into a quiet, empty room, especially when we are apprehensive about what we are walking into. Put on some

sweet, uplifting jams that will help lift the mood. • Give them something to do. Ask students to fill out a simple form while they wait for the meeting to start. You obviously want their contact info, but you also want to know more about them! Ask them a wacky question—something to let them show off their personality! This can be a great talking point for a follow-up. • Start with a bang! If you have a great video, student performance, or just want to showcase your own passion for public speaking—start off with a bang! Let them know right off the bat that this is a team of a grand experience. • Inform them. You are charged with the task of explaining our activity (events, tournaments, practice schedule, etc.), in a short amount of time. The pitfall here is getting too detailed. Don’t. Give them a snapshot of benefits and positive experience results. Give all genres (debate events, public address, interpretation, and limited preparation) equal stage time.

• Be honest. This activity is not for the fainthearted or thin-skinned - it requires a significant amount of work and self-evaluation and development. Be upfront about it. • Challenge them! Remember those goals you set? Convey them and set the bar high for students. • End with a bang! Students should leave the meeting feeling inspired, energized, and ready to start right away. • Have a strategy for follow-up questions. Students will want to connect right after and ask sometimes very specific questions. However, you might have a long line of students wanting to connect and not enough time! Have a strategy for answering the types of questions students might have, and use your assistant coaches or veteran students/ alumni to help you. • Follow up. . . right away. You have 24 hours to remind the students who attended that they did. Depending on your time and resources, this

may just be a mass email to the students. Ideally, the more personalized you can make that communication, the better. You can split the attendees among your coaches and student leaders to send out a shell of an email with personalization included. • Be loud about next steps! Answer the question “so what now?” before they

school, it is critical you have a schedule and lesson plans situated for students to be trained in the activity. This also includes “make up” classes for those who are not able to attend. This should feel like a classroom, at least for the first month. Be open about the fact that it will feel like they are taking an additional academic class after school, but that those lessons are critical to the fundamentals you are establishing for your students.

can ask it. This can be in the form of the next meeting, the opening workshop, all day Saturday boot camp—whatever step you have next to begin these students on their journey, communicate that loudly and clearly.


Recruiting does not end after the recruiting experience event. There are a few pitfalls to the post-recruiting experience event that many coaches fall into. Here are tips to combat them. Have a clear training to the competitive process. Especially if your team primarily works after

Host follow-up auditions. Yep. Do it. Don’t fear it. Do it. Tell them that some people might get cut. Tell them you don’t have a number that can/cannot be on the team, but set a realistic expectation (attendance at a practice tournament, hosting your own scrimmage, whatever you deem best), and if students do not meet that expectation, cut them from the team. Don’t fear losing students. I always said that I would rather have 15 motivated, dedicated students than 150 fringe competitors. When someone does not meet your expectations or wants to leave for whatever reason, give them your best and move on. Focus on the students who want to be there. That type of

mentality will attract more students who want to be there. Excellence breeds and attracts excellence. Mediocre motivation attracts the same.

Be creative, be wacky, be passionate, be flexible, be loud! Above all, be all of the above. Our activity is not always obvious and sometimes difficult to explain. So, find all the ways to reach students. Keep in mind that the best recruiting method is like running the best classroom: relationships. The more you can connect with students, the more they will want to be part of what you are building. Recruiting takes work—a lot of it. It is never, ever about just hoping the right people will walk through the door. It is about opening that door, shouting about all the excitement, growth, and opportunities our activity offers, inviting everyone in, then leaving the door wide open for students from all walks of life and goals to come in and join your journey. Erik Dominguez is a two-diamond coach who has been competing and coaching for more than 20 years.




CHRISTY BRIGGS: Preparing Students to Be Revolutionary Editor’s Note: The questions that follow were collected from Nevada speech and debate educators and compiled as part of Christy’s National Educator of the Year materials. Visit www.speechanddebate.org/coach-recognition to view her entire portfolio.


he 2020 National Educator of the Year, Christy Briggs of Reno High School in Reno, Nevada, believes that teaching speech and debate is like leading a revolution. She explains, “In a day and age where teenagers are being bombarded with social media, fake news, and a plethora of other things designed to distract them from actually developing their own thoughts, speech and debate gives students a platform for their voice.” Nine years into her teaching career, with no speech and debate experience, Briggs volunteered to add a speech and debate course to her class load. She says that within hours of committing to take over the class, “debate students started showing up in my classroom asking if we could all meet to talk about how the next school year would go. Agreeing to that meeting set our future in motion.”



In a day and age where teenagers are being bombarded with social media, fake news, and a plethora of other things designed to distract them from actually developing their own thoughts, speech and debate gives students a platform for their voice.” — Christy Briggs

Eleven years later, she still seeks to guide her students to develop the skills and the values that will prepare them to be revolutionary in their school, community, and lives.

How do you approach teaching speech and debate? I see my role as more of a facilitator, there to take care of and organize the logistics. I plan a calendar, but the students plan the content that goes on the calendar. On the surface, the class is designed around tournament prep; students meet in alternating speech and debate groups. Digging deeper, leaders of those

groups plan specific content for each of those days. I believe that putting agency into the hands of the students is what has led to the overwhelming success and popularity of the program on our campus. In the speech and debate classroom, students feel valued as young adults, and they feel in control of their environment. They are the true leaders of the revolution.

Have you ever had students in class who required special accommodations? Absolutely. In fact, I think we thrive when we have more diversity among the

students in the class. Over the years, I’ve had several students who broke the mold—and the experiences were epic! Adjustments are easy to make. Exempting tournament participation is an easy fix—though I try to convince all students in my class to attend at least one tournament—because I think the students involved in speech and debate are some of the most accepting and loving students around. The more opportunity I have to expose students to those who they perceive as being unlike them, the better. I love watching attitudes change when students realize that others truly believe in them and their abilities.

How do you manage such a large team successfully? Something a former student said that has stuck with me is, “It’s not that you’re mean, it’s that you’re


Four additional outstanding teachers were chosen as National Educator of

the Year finalists in 2020. Read on for highlights of their contributions to speech and debate education in the words of their nominating students, peers, and alumni. — compiled by Lauren McCool

Shawna Christenson – The Weiss School Shawna Christenson is a middle school teacher at The Weiss School in Palm Beach, Florida, and was nominated by a collection of her students’ parents. One parent writes, “Our kids are excited to have a teacher who is passionate about teaching and instills confidence in each student. There is never a goal too high for Ms. Christensen and her students. They are a team guided by her professionalism, knowledge, and leadership which is preparing these students to stand independently and communicate on issues that impact our communities.”

Elizabeth Eskin – Timber Creek High School Beth Eskin of Timber Creek High School in Orlando, Florida, is described by her former student Tara Tedrow as an “invaluable resource” for coaches across Orange County. Tara writes, “Beth is selfless in every sense of the word. She volunteers her time to ensure every program in our county will have a debate program that can enrich the education of our students and the careers of our teachers. Beth works without expecting anything in return and is rarely recognized for the incredible time and energy she dedicates to teachers and students throughout the county.”

Renea Moss – Miramar High School Renea Moss of Miramar High School in Miramar, Florida, was nominated in part by her fellow Manatee District member coach Dario Camara who writes, “Her ability to engage everyone in the class to challenge themselves is unique, and her passion for inclusivity is witnessed by every single project she leads. Her natural born talent to lead...changes lives and provides new educational methods for others to use. Her success is not only measured in the numerous awards and milestones she has helped debate reach, but that the impact that underrepresented members of our community now have: a voice, because Renea has found them one.”

Gary Peters – Miramar High School Gary Peters, a teacher at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, was in part nominated by one of his team’s captains Justina OIuwayomi, who writes that Peters “believes in the possibilities of creating a leader out of anyone and everyone. He is not only welcoming, but he is also understanding and very helpful. He treats everyone with equality and utmost respect while urging us to propel further and be the best version of ourselves. He is a very experienced man who uses all of his past experience as a form of storytelling to guide us.”



fair. It doesn’t matter if a leader breaks the rules or a novice does, the consequence is the same. You don’t play favorites when it comes to meeting expectations or following the rules.” The students on this team know what my expectations are—they are printed in their syllabus each year, we go over them, and we talk about them for classroom behavior and for tournament behavior. I also model the behavior I expect from them. When conflict arises in the tab room between coaches, I share vague details with my students and explain how resolution was reached—I think it’s important for them to know that their adults are called to act with integrity as often as the students are.

What advice would you give to first year teachers/coaches? Educate your administrators! The most valuable thing you can do to keep your program afloat is make sure your administrators see value in your speech/debate program—especially if speech communication isn’t a graduation requirement. Whether your program competes in tournaments or not, speech and

debate combines so many important skills to students: research, public speaking, collaboration, etc. Make sure the people deciding what courses will be offered on your campus see how impactful speech and debate is. Invite administrators to observe your classroom. Ask them to stay long enough to see past the chaos and to allow the structure that reveals itself.

What is your relationship like with your school’s administration? Speech and debate is so unique from other school activities, it’s important to continuously educate administrators about what it is we do. I’ve invited administrators into my classroom many times— encouraging them to conduct at least one of their “evaluation” visits during speech and debate. I want them to know that although things constantly look hectic and chaotic in the debate classroom, the opposite is usually true. Groups are working together on specific tasks—even when those tasks are different from other groups. I invited the administrators to come to a tournament over and over again until they did, so that they could see how

different tournaments are from classroom activities, but also for them to see how excited students are to show off what they’ve been working on. I also spent a lot of time explaining to my administrators how I grade and the thought process behind those grading decisions. I want them to be on my side if/when parents have questions. I want them to be able to answer those questions with confidence.

tournament at all. After that, he was hooked. In his goodbye speech to the class, he told a story about how that tournament changed the course of his life. He was on the heels of some traumatic life events, and he credited my “forcing” him to attend the first in a chain of events that saved his life.

What are your top five student success stories from over the years?

I love watching students surprise themselves; I love seeing them overcome barriers and meet success where they thought they couldn’t find it. I love watching other adults react with awe as students gracefully tackle “adult” topics (politics, war, death) with composure, research, and enthusiasm. I love that I am afforded the opportunity to play a small role in the lives of the people who will soon be running the world in which I live. Perhaps the thing I love the most about teaching/ coaching speech and debate is the same thing my students mention to newcomers each year—this event creates a sense of family among its members. The relationships built through speech and debate are uplifting, fulfilling, and enduring.

It would take too much space to tell about my top five, but one that stands out the most to me is a student I had named Ryan. Ryan came into my class his sophomore year. He was very hesitant to attend the first tournament. After much coaxing and encouragement, I told him to at least participate Friday, and if he absolutely hated it, he could drop from Saturday and look at other class options. Ryan had a very successful Friday and returned for debate on Saturday, where he went on to take first place in his event. The success isn’t in the fact that he broke in both of his events; it’s that he attended the

What do you love most about coaching/teaching?

Visit www.speechanddebate.org/coach-recognition to view Christy’s entire National Educator of the Year portfolio. 38


USING A MENTOR MODEL The success this class/ team has experienced is all credited to the mentor model we use. In 21st century terms, this is truly a Flipped Classroom. When I took over the class, I had zero experience with speech and debate. So, when students approached me and said “this is how we do it,” I was (hesitantly) on board. The class focuses a lot on teaching speech and debate through competition events. Our local league offers 10 speech events and five debate events. Students are in two speech events and one debate event each. It would be nearly impossible for one person (me) to teach every single event to all of the students in the class at one time. Not only would they be so tired of listening to me talk, they would have nearly no time to prepare for the events—and even if they did, when entry limits are considered, I could not enter all of my students into the same event at tournaments. To work around several of these issues, my classroom is flipped and the students lead specialized speech and debate groups the majority of the time.

Putting so much of the instruction time into the hands of students demands that I have a method in place to ensure that each group has quality leaders and mentors. Throughout the school year, we hold leadership meetings/ lunches to talk about struggles the leaders are having in their groups, what each leader or group needs from me, and to reaffirm expectations we have for each other while using this model. While I see my students daily and could make a judgment call on leaders and mentors based on what I observe throughout the year in class and at tournaments, I like that the application and interview process allows me one more opportunity to give my students experiences that will prepare them for life outside of high school. The application and interview process also creates a time and space to really talk to students who express a desire to lead and for them to express thoughts or ideas that might not otherwise come into play during a regular class session.



THEto MINDS THAT“Teaching WILL CONTROL THEand FUTURE.” “It’s a leadingWITH factor events finding effective waysSchool, Nevada why our team has stayed - Christy Briggs, Reno High of improving others’ consistent over the years.” performances has — Amanda W. increased my knowledge “We get to see what and ability tenfold the mentors have because it pushes me out accomplished and the of catering to myself and hard stuff they had to my opinions and makes go through to get there. me take an objective view That’s something you on how to improve.” don’t see with a teacher.” — Logan S.

— Zoey K.

“There’s a different type of motivation that comes with not wanting to disappoint an older student you look up to; it makes us closer.”

“It allows for more oneon-one time with the leaders, and consistent teacher intervention [is there] to correct mistakes and help clarify.” — Sophia W.

— Lauren K.

“I like it because it allows experience and knowledge to be passed down.” — Chase O.

“What stands out to me is the respect we build for our leaders since the teacher puts so much trust in them.” — Meilonai T.

“The knowledge from past mentors to future mentors keeps the teachings of that group going for years upon years.” — Gabe M.

“It establishes the students as the backbone of the speech and debate class.” ­— Aiden P.

You can find an example of the Mentor Application Christy uses for her class on the next page.



MentorAPPLICATION Application MENTOR Name __________________________________________ # years on debate team __________

Graduating class of ___________

Position applying for? ___________________________

1. Why do you think you are the best candidate for this leadership position? What makes you better than other potential candidates?

2. What has your success record looked like at this event?

3. What do you think are your areas of strength when it comes to this event?

4. What do you think are your areas of weakness when it comes to this event? How will you improve upon them?

5. How will you deal with students in your group who refuse to do work, are constantly unprepared, and/or are often off-task while in class?

6. Think of a time when you displayed your dedication to prepping in a very brief time frame. Tell me about that situation. Include the answers to the following questions: Why was the deadline so short? How did you approach getting things done? Discuss anything else you feel is important to the situation.

7. What other responsibilities will you take on in the coming school year? List any clubs or organizations, jobs, family responsibilities, volunteering, etc., that will impact the number of hours you will be able to dedicate specifically to speech and debate. Will you have a problem with staying after school until 4:00 p.m. two days a week?

8. What things worked well this year and what things would you want to change about this leadership position?




The Coolidge Foundation is setting out to find the top debaters in America! The Coolidge Cup National Debate Tournament is an expenses-paid invitational tournament and debate experience held each year from July 1-5 in historic Plymouth Notch, Vermont. Learn about President Coolidge and compete for more than $15,000 in scholarships and prizes. To learn how you can earn a bid to the 2020 Coolidge Cup, see the link below for a list of qualifying tournaments— including online competitions that you can enter from anywhere.


www.coolidgefoundation.org/debate/coolidge-cup Please watch our website for updates regarding the status of the 2020 Coolidge Cup. We are monitoring the situation closely with respect to COVID-19.

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Photo Source: www.mn.gov


CONGRESS AT THE CAPITOL Taking Pride at Districts

by Angela Zhong


or more than 20 years, the Northern Lights, Central Minnesota, and Southern Minnesota NSDA districts have coalesced and combined the date and site of their district Congressional Debate tournament through some crafty coordination. Whether or not they qualify, Minnesota Congress students are in for a treat at their state capitol building.

Months in

the Making

One of the key ingredients to a well-run tournament is a pool of experienced and punctual judges, especially at important ones such as the district tournament series. For districts that are spread out, it can be nearly impossible to consolidate the required number of judges for a tournament



when judges may have to take time off of work and travel hours at a time to get to the venue itself. In light of this obstacle, Central Minnesota chair Zach Prax explains the inspiration for merging their district qualifiers into what they refer to as “Congress at the Capitol.” “By using judges from other districts, we are able to meet the requirement of having unaffiliated judges adjudicate our Congress chambers,” Zach explains. “We do have to hire some outside judges, but when each school is obligated to bring one judge, and we can trade that judge with the other districts, it is much easier to follow those rules.” Other NSDA districts such as Nebraska and Nebraska South follow a similar model for their tournaments.

Zach goes on to describe how the tournament “utilizes other districts’ schoolobligated judges for a much cheaper cost. [This saves] money for nicer awards or other tournaments where we really need a higher number of outside, nonschool provided judges in other speech and debate events, and [reduces] the entry fee that schools have to pay throughout the entire district tournament series.”

Challenges Of course, these benefits only occur through prior coordination. Zach admits that some difficulties can arise with so many districts and competitors. However, ensuring that all of the districts are on the same page in planning and

organizing memberships has definitely helped. “To work together, we thought it was important that each chamber have the same rules regarding the NSDA’s internet pilot, Congress pilot, and so on,” Zach says. “Having a set of rules in one district, and a different set of rules in another, when they are both at the same site—[or] having judges from one district judge another— might lead to chaos.“ Andrew Tichy, head debate coach at Moorhead High School and chair of the Northern Lights District, echoes these difficulties. He adds, “Traveling long distances for a tournament certainly poses some challenges for our coaches and students— arranging transportation, hotels, making up schoolwork, etc.”

Central Minnesota qualifiers (left to right): Alexandra Smith (East Ridge), Clare McIntyre (East Ridge), Sam Padmanabhan (East Ridge), Meaghan McManus (East Ridge), Emily Lawrence (East Ridge), Meggie Pruidze (Eastview), and Lan Do (East Ridge). Not pictured: Elise Noonan (Eastview).

We want the national qualifying tournament to feel special, like something more than what you see at a typical Saturday meet.” — Andrew Tichy

Thankfully, the support system of speech and debate rises to the challenge. “We have so many dedicated coaches in our district who go above and beyond for their students every day,” Andrew comments. “They are teachers, mentors, and sometimes bus and van drivers, too.”

Taking Pride Despite the challenges, the effort is undeniably worth it. Andrew explains, “[Coaches] make it work because we want the national qualifying tournament to feel special, like something more than what you see at a typical Saturday meet. Travel isn’t always easy, but district coaches recognize the value in this event, and I can’t thank them enough for their continued commitment.”

Students love the idea of competing at the state capitol as well. Director of Debate at Eagan High School and Southern Minnesota chair Chris McDonald remarks, “We watch students debate legislation while sitting in rooms where they know actual laws are being passed... It excites them, and they take the competition much more seriously than if it was held at a high school... [Just as] when a basketball team gets to play at Target Center where the Timberwolves play their games, the teams take extreme pride in getting the opportunity to take that much larger professional stage.” It is easy to see where the teams’ dedication to “Congress at the Capitol” springs from. As Ross Eichele, coach in



Recommendations For those interested in pursuing similar options for their district qualifying tournament, Minnesota serves as a brilliant example. In the Minnesota State Capitol as well as other legislative forums, coordination is incredibly



important to get the necessary number of rooms, as agendas and sessions are planned months, if not a year, in advance. Minnesota state senator and NSDA alum Matt Little assists in this endeavor with Ross Eichele, who spent years building relationships with staff at the capitol. Ross reaches out a year in advance and checks if the legislature is in session and works behind the scenes to ensure they can reserve the rooms free of charge. Additionally, the districts try to schedule around other local tournaments. This usually narrows the available dates to November/ December, which coincides with the end of the Congress season in Minnesota. Ross notes, “It took a couple of years of dead-end calls and emails before I was able to get permission to [start] “Congress at the Capitol...” I thought if we could offer a great experience, then people would see it as a viable event and have interest in continuing it.” This tenacity has definitely paid off!

Teams take extreme pride in getting the opportunity to take that much larger professional stage.” — Chris McDonald

Chris explains that many districts that are interested in having a tournament at the capitol likely have connections to alumni who can help set up these types of relationships. Alumni often do remember their forensic connections and are more than happy to give back to the community that supported them! Additionally, expanding the district’s reach and working with more officials at the capitol is crucial, given there is typically a change of staff and possibly a

change of power after every election season and having a legislator back the request for a committee room makes the setting more viable. Perhaps next year, even more students across the nation will have the opportunity to speak the language of power and debate at their respective state capitols!

Angela Zhong is a senior at Cypress Woods High School in Texas. She currently serves as a publication intern for the NSDA.

Photo Credit: Andrew Tichy

the Southern Minnesota District, summarizes, “The capitol adds a level of decorum and appreciation for the event that cannot be matched in any other setting.” Having the opportunity to compete in Congressional Debate at the state capitol “quite literally train[s] students to become future leaders.” At the capitol, competitors are also submerged in the protocol of legislators as they are sworn in by the residing Minnesota Secretary of State. Suddenly, titles such as “Senator” or “Representative” become far more tangible and take on a new meaning. Zach echoes this sentiment. “Who knows... many of these students may be giving speeches in these same rooms in their future as they debate real bills and resolutions in representing their future constituents!”

Northern Lights qualifiers (left to right): Vijaya Gopalan (Maple Grove), Emma Pranger (Moorhead), Hallie Anderson (Andover), Noah Peterson (Maple Grove), Kelso Anderson (Hawley), and Adam Boeckermann (Elk River)

Note from the GMU Camp Director – We are working closely with local and university health authorities to ensure that our camp is held with the utmost safety of all. We have been authorized to move forward and will post updates to our website!


What Does It Take to Run Tabroom.com? by Chris Palmer

same. Two years ago, we had three machines. Five years ago, Tabroom ran on just one.

The Software These five little computers are a small portion of what it takes to make our online registration and tabulation software possible.

The Hardware Five little computers is the first answer. They’re stacked in a rack, in a room with powerful air conditioning, redundant power supplies, and multiple internet links just outside Dallas, Texas. They measure 1.75” high, 19” wide, and 20” deep. Those five machines together run Tabroom. com, the points and honors system, www. speechanddebate. org, the membership database, and everything else tech-related for the NSDA. The five machines have multiple links to the internet in case one should fail. They have power backups, so that



even the tornadoes that struck Dallas last fall did not affect them. They’re racked in combinationlocked cages, inside a warehouse-sized room with tight security. That room is loud and cold. Every watt of power the machines draw leaves as heat, enough to fry their own components. So each contains a half dozen fans and powerful air conditioners do the rest. Those five little machines do a lot of work, and it’s always growing. Since I started tracking traffic in the fall of 2005, Tabroom.com pages have been viewed a total of 352.5 million times by 4.5 million unique individuals. Tabroom served out 16.4 million page views

in February of this year alone, our busiest month on record. We’ve set a new traffic record every February for years now. In 2019, we served 14.1 million page views, and in 2018, it was 11 million. So those five systems naturally have a limit on how much traffic they can handle. If all the traffic from a large social media site, say Twitter, suddenly got dumped on them, they’d fall over and die in seconds. Twitter might handle as much traffic in a minute as Tabroom does in a month. But Twitter also has thousands of servers and hundreds of systems administrators. But as our traffic grows, our capacity has expanded all the

The second thing needed to run Tabroom.com is a software stack. A system like Tabroom is built on many layers of components, most of it written by other people who’ve never even heard of speech and debate. This collection of software is as jargon-filled as a Policy Debate round. We use the Linux OS, the MariaDB database, Postfix to send texts and email, and Zabbix to monitor performance. Our web servers are named apache and nginx, the printout generator is called LaTeX— the weird capitalization is mandatory. Stitching all that wordsalad together is the code written specifically for Tabroom itself, a half million lines of software code that does specifics, like showing schematics, accepting online ballots,






2020 or sectioning semifinals. That code is written in the Perl language, which is very old and outdated, but we’re moving it into Javascript, which is not. These elements together make the Tabroom stack. And that stack has to be maintained. We have to update it regularly to patch security holes and access new features. Sometimes part of it will stop talking to the rest and has to be adapted or replaced. Sometimes we’ll discover a set of configurations or a piece of code that worked fine for 1,200 users—but can’t handle 1,201. The traditional way to discover that problem is to get 1,201 users for the first time. The site slows down, and my morning is probably ruined. My phone will blow up from our monitoring systems frantically screaming at it. Finding the problem is usually the hardest part. Any part of the stack might be responsible. We monitor and log

16.4 MILLION PAGE VIEWS every part of it, but that generates hundreds of logging messages in dozens of locations even during normal times. Sifting through all that for the telltale sign of a limit being reached or a piece of code that was written badly can take a while. It takes longer still when the machines are slow and non-responsive, which they often are when I’m trying to pull data from them. And, of course, it happens most when the site is busiest—a 150-tournament Saturday, usually mid-morning, when 5,000 judges and 13,000 students are trying to get their pairings right now. However, once a problem is finally identified, that’s about 95% of the challenge. Either I know the solution, or Google does. I type a couple arcane commands and the system lurches back to smooth operation. And then I go for a short walk outside and clear my head.

The People And that’s the third Tabroom need—us, the people behind it. I do sometimes need to remind Tabroom users that we’re not a big-budget site run by a corporation that sells your private information for vast profit. Tabroom is an overgrown college hobby project by a one-time extemper, who sat through the delays typical of old tournaments and thought maybe he could make things better and more automatic. It made little sense to have some of our best educators and judges spending their entire weekend doing simple arithmetic just to keep this activity going. I’ve always thought of my goal as the “Fifteen Minutes.” If I can save each student or coach an average of 15 minutes a week, by automating something, or making the awards ceremony happen sooner, then I’ve freed up a lot of time. That time

is better put toward a practice session, or one last rebuttal redo, or finding better evidence for the next debate. Each problem I solve or feature I add gets me closer to saving everyone 15 minutes. Because by “people behind Tabroom,” I don’t just mean me, the primary developer, or the NSDA tech staff and our team of volunteers. I also mean you, the coaches and students, the savers of that 15 minutes. I like to say a tab room cannot control a tournament, but can only suggest that a tournament occur. You make the rounds actually happen: the debates, the performances, and the feedback are what matter most. We’re just aiming to save you 15 minutes of busywork in between. Chris Palmer serves as Developer for the NSDA.

LEARN MORE To read about Tabroom.com features and support, visit http://docs.tabroom.com. ROSTRUM | APRIL/MAY 2020



for more info visit ed.co/nsda

The Fundraising Season Begins Now


mid these uncertain times, speech and debate students, coaches, mentors, and parents are already starting to plan ahead for next school year. Eventually the long nights and weekends of practice culminate in spirited competitions. Buried under all of the excitement lie the costs needed to successfully compete. The cost of training materials, transportation, hotel rooms, food, fees, etc., can easily exceed $10,000, placing coaches, team members, and parents in a new role— fundraiser. Fundraising is an often overlooked necessity of the speech and debate season, but it shouldn’t have to be hard or time consuming. That’s why we created EdCo— the leading online fudraising platform for teams and schools.



EdCo has empowered NSDA teams like yours to raise more than $410,000. And our powerful new tools make your fundraising easier and more sustainable than ever.

Getting Started • Create your page in under five minutes at ed.co/nsda. • Invite your team to participate in fundraising activities. Students, parents, and supporters can all fundraise together. • Plan your budget so you know how much you need to raise and tell donors what their donations will be used for. • Tell your story with photos, videos, update posts, and comments. • Get the word out about your fundraiser through

EdCo’s built-in email, SMS text, and social media tools. • Collect


Hundr raised

Start a f

donations online and even checks. All donations through EdCo are tax-deductible. • Thank your donors. EdCo automatically sends each donor a thank you email and tax reciept. • Use corporate matching. EdCo lets donors submit their donations to their company match programs to raise funds faster! EdCo partners with the NSDA to offer teams the ability to raise more money than they have in the past. We want your team to get a piece of the action! Get started today at ed.co/nsda.

With busy students engaged in all sorts of activities, carving out time to fundraise can be a challenge. EdCo provided a forum via which students could reach out to prospective donors even given a few minutes a day sandwiched around other activities.”

REgistr Training Membe Bus HoteL + Food A LOT O fu

— Paul Wexler, Coach of Needham High School, MA (Raised $3,600)

The partnership between EdCo and the NSDA has been a huge win for our team’s fundraising the past four years. EdCo is a trustworthy platform that we can return to year after year, tools that are easy to use for increasing our outreach, and responsive staff who get things done.”



— Micah Everson, Coach of Murrah High School, MS (Raised $10,697)


Unlock your fundraising potential at ed.co/nsda



Traveling Abroad, Practicing Online, and How You Can Apply to Join by Anh Cao and Liana Schmitter-Emerson

(left to right) Members of the USA Debate team, who compete internationally in World Schools Debate, include Arham Habib, James Hu, Cassandra Berlin, Anh Cao, Liana Schmitter-Emerson, Elyse Dewbre, Roopa Irakam, Genevieve Cox, Rohit Jhawar, and Jack Johnson.


rom Los Angeles to Singapore to Boston, USA Debate enjoyed a very exciting semester of competition. In January, five members of the team met in L.A. for the Harvard Westlake World Schools Invitational. The team spent a day in Los Angeles prior to the tournament training with alum Michael Bole (’19) and had lots of fun pushing each other to prepare cases for “impossible motions”—topics for which constructing arguments can seem absurdly difficult. After three exciting rounds on day one of the

tournament (including on a motion about the departure of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle from the Royal Family), the team headed to Universal City Walk for some Italian food and bonding time. Ultimately, the team championed the tournament after a challenging final round and participated in a public demonstration debate for local middle school students, ending the day by judging at the middle school tournament. A week later, 10 members of the team set off for Singapore

to participate in the International Debate Weekend, hosted by friends from Team Singapore and several school debate programs. Before competition began, the team enjoyed a visit to Gardens by the Bay, afternoon tea, an impromptu practice round with teams from the Singapore-American School, and a demonstration round against Team Singapore. The next day, the International Debate Workshop commenced. One of the most valuable aspects of this training opportunity was that instead of obtaining

wins or losses after rounds, competitors were guaranteed 20-30 minutes of in-depth oral feedback from two “mentors,” which gave competitors the opportunity to discuss the round and ask questions of coaches and former competitors. The trip concluded with a visit to a local night market and dinner with Team Singapore. Most recently, the team attended the annual Harvard College World Schools Invitational. Members spent some valuable time reconnecting with alumni during the

Watch six members of the USA Debate team showcase their skills with a remotely-conducted demo debate! www.speechanddebate.org/world-schools-demo-april-2020 52


Quick Preps (ideal for groups of 2-5) three-day tournament, ultimately breaking to quarterfinals. James Hu (’20) was fourth place speaker and Rohit Jhawar (’20) was seventh. Like other teams around the world, the USA Debate team has shifted to online training to keep skills fresh. Having made friends across the globe, we now realize how much smaller the world really is. Building upon experience with

weekly Zoom meetings, the team has been proactive in training remotely. Check out the sidebar for two drills you can run on your favorite online platform with as few as two people!

This drill refines impromptu skills. Find a motion, select a captain, and prepare the proposition side for 20 minutes. This should be an abridged version of the complete prep process with individual brainstorm, case construction, and time for speakers to prepare individually. Then a speaker should give the first proposition speech, accepting points of information (POIs) from teammates.

Motion Analysis (for groups of 2-12) This drill is ideal for prepared motions. Before the meeting, each debater should do preliminary reading so they have a good understanding of the topic. During the meeting, one person should lead a discussion of the motion’s relevant details. Who are the stakeholders? What do the competing worlds look like? What are the best arguments on each side? What are the winning strategies? This drill gives students the direction to build the strongest possible cases.

Anh Cao is a senior at Bentonville High School in Arkansas. Liana ShmitterEmerson is a junior from Campbell Hall in California.

Apply to Join USA Debate!


Applications Open – April 15 Students submit data using an online form, upload coach/administrator recommendations, and record a video on the provided motion.


Applications Close – June 1 The online form closes at 11:59 p.m. CT.

Nationals Auto-Qualifiers Invited to Apply – June 24 Auto-qualifiers in World Schools, United States Extemp, International Extemp, Congress, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Public Forum Debate, and Policy Debate are invited to apply as part of Stage One. No video task is required for auto-qualifiers, but they must include coach/administrator recommendations.


Eligible applicants are citizens (dual citizenship acceptable) or students who have obtained permanent residence status for a minimum of two years. Per WSDC rules, all applicants must be current residents of the United States who will be attending a secondary diploma-granting institution, are no younger than 14 years of age, and have not reached their 20th birthday in July 2021. Candidates must also be current and active student members of the NSDA at an active member school.

Advancing students will be asked to complete another video task with a new motion.

Video Task Closes – July 16 The online form closes at 11:59 p.m. CT.




Applicants Announced – July 6


Advancing students will be asked to complete another video task with a new motion.

Video Task Closes – August 6 The online form closes at 11:59 p.m. CT.

Finalists Announced – August 17

Auto-Qualifier Applications Close – June 29 The online form closes at 11:59 p.m. CT.

Applicants Announced – July 30

Finalists will be asked to schedule an interview with USA Debate coaches.


Interview for National Team Finalists – August 19-23 USA Debate National Team Announced – August 27 USA Debate Members Arrive in Dallas for Training at Greenhill – September 15

Visit www.speechanddebate.org/usa-debate to get started. ROSTRUM | APRIL/MAY 2020




SEE LATEST UPDATES BELOW—WE’RE STILL HERE FOR YOU! Regional Date changes: MidAtlantic to April 5, MidWest to April 19, NorthEast May 9, Online May 16, Pacific NorthWest TBD Showcase your communication skills at the Ronald Reagan Great Communicator Debate Series. Use logic, evidence and personality to share your ideas, just as Ronald Reagan did throughout his life. Highlights: • Compete online at ONE geographic regional and/or the Online Regional • An all-expense paid trip to the National Finals for the top two from each region • Tours, activities, and competition at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Southern California • Access to our extensive alumni network and programs, including paid internships and leadership development This year’s regional topic RESOLVED: States are more effective at legislating to improve the environment than the federal government. *Competitors who qualify for the National Championship receive an all-expenses paid trip to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Southern California. In addition to competition, the three-day trip includes a private tour of the library, dinner under the wings of Air Force One, and networking with an extraordinary group of young leaders.

Past participants say: “Reagan Debates emphasize being able to talk to anyone, like Reagan did, with emphasis on empathy and emotion, and not just cold, hard facts.” - Valerie Wang, MidAtlantic; $1,500 Scholarship

“The moderator questions are creative and help you actually speak to judges. The resolutions are much more big picture then just plans and policies.” - Aron Ravin, Online; 2019 Great Communicator Champion, $10,000 Scholarship

*Scholarship Awards Change: Please note that due to reduced institutional revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 GCDS scholarships are reduced to a total of $25,000 until further notice

For competition resources and to register your team, visit us at www.ReaganFoundation.org/GCDS @RRFEducation





Forging Ahead With Hope Alison Epperson on raising awareness about CTE by Annie Reisener

Alison is currently a practicing attorney at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in New York City where she focuses on White Collar, Investigations, Securities Litigation & Compliance.

Trigger warning: This article references suicide.


n high school, Alison Epperson was voted most opinionated. She was smart, passionate, and outspoken in the classroom. Iowa’s Indianola High School was a mix of the best qualities of a large and small school—it was big enough to offer a variety of activities but small enough to give students a chance to participate in different things. Ali was a cheerleader, she played the violin, and she spent her weekends



competing in LincolnDouglas Debate. As the youngest of three girls, she followed in her sisters’ footsteps by joining the team. The Epperson family legacy at Indianola High was one of performance and debate. For Ali’s on-again/off-again boyfriend Zac Easter, it was football. Like Ali, Zac was well-rounded and athletic, suiting up to wrestle in the winter and becoming a powerhouse linebacker and fullback

on the football field in the fall. As one of three boys and the son of the team’s assistant coach, he began playing football in elementary school and continued halfway through his senior year. On the field, Zac hit hard. As a shorter guy, he used every tool available to overcome his opponents, including his helmet. In high school, he began to experience disorientation and dizziness on the sidelines and after games but kept playing. Halfway through his senior season, he was benched for the year following his fourth confirmed concussion on the football field. After graduation, Zac sustained another concussion in a tactical training exercise for the National Guard and a final concussion in a car accident. Over time, the symptoms he’d experienced on the field grew in frequency and severity.

THE ROAD TO SELF-DIAGNOSIS Constant and excruciating headaches. Dementia. Slurred speech. Blurred vision. Depression and anxiety. Impulse control issues. Social isolation. Brain tremors he described as sharp pains in the brain. Zac was battling an array of symptoms. The connecting thread: He didn’t feel like himself, and he didn’t know how to get back to the person he was before. For several years, Zac suffered in silence. He began to investigate and record his symptoms, and through his research came to believe he was suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. The Concussion Legacy Foundation defines CTE as a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including

symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head. A protein called Tau forms clumps that slowly spread throughout the brain, killing brain cells. But CTE in someone Zac’s age was rare. Symptoms do not generally begin appearing until years after the onset of head impacts, generally in a patient’s 40s or 50s. As the disease progresses, patients may experience problems with thinking and memory, including memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, and eventually progressive dementia. As he researched, Zac grew convinced the concussions and subconcussive hits he sustained in football had caused him to develop CTE. “I don’t know what happened to me, but I know the concussions had something to do with it,” Zac wrote in his journals. “I know for a fact that all the things I’ve experienced in my life are from using my head as a weapon.” Zac saw dozens of specialists who had different opinions regarding his symptoms, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. “The lack of consensus almost made things worse and offered little hope,” Ali says. One doctor

acknowledged that CTE was a possibility, but that recognition and confidence in Zac’s selfdiagnosis brought little relief—CTE can only be diagnosed by examining brain tissue after death. In the here and now, Zac’s life was ravaged by symptoms. Zac’s mood zig-zagged. In May of 2015, when he confided in Ali about his struggles, he was determined to get better. At that point, Ali was a senior at Centre College in Kentucky studying Politics and International Studies and preparing to attend Case Western Reserve University School of Law in the fall. As Zac battled symptoms and shared his experiences with his family, the two spent the summer together in Indianola before Ali departed for Cleveland, Ohio. “I witnessed a lot of his symptoms, but the one that stands out most is his social isolation,” Ali says. “I also witnessed his memory loss and his inability to find the words he was looking for. Generally speaking, when he was with me, he would try to process and work through the fact that he just no longer ‘felt right’ and no longer felt like ‘the old Zac’—and that was pretty devastating. It was devastating to see

someone you love so much lose themselves and feel like their mind has betrayed them and that you’re both helpless to do anything about it.” In December of 2015, more than six years after he played his last down of football, Zac took his own life. He left behind journal entries detailing his symptoms and specific instructions for loved ones to donate his brain to science to help others be diagnosed. Doctors in California examined Zac’s brain and confirmed what he knew: he showed signs of CTE. In his journals, Zac wrote, “I know there is a kid out there going through something similar to what I went through. This kids [sic] not quite sure why he changed all the sudden and is always scared to tell anyone about the pain because he doesn’t even understand it himself. Somewhere someone is struggle [sic] to keep up their tough social identity when really, they are suffering in silence.”

ORGANIZING FOR ACTION Zac urged those he left behind to raise awareness about CTE. “Spread the word of mental illness and concussions, and over time, please spread my story. Great things can still happen from this event. Think of all the lives that can be saved if all of you come together and help people by spreading the word.” In response, Ali and Zac’s mom Brenda teamed up with Sue Wilson, Zac’s high school athletic trainer, and Mike Hadden, professor of Sport Science and Health Education, to found CTE Hope. The organization supports individuals and families who have suffered from the ill-effects of multiple concussions and traumatic brain injuries. CTE Hope provides education and awareness, and supports the research, diagnosis, management, and treatment necessary to

Zac Easter (left) suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE.



protect individuals from the long-term effects of head traumas and concussions that can lead to CTE. Ali is the Chief Communications Officer. “We want to ultimately be an organization of action,” Ali says. “Advocacy and awareness are really important, but we want to also take tangible steps to help develop research that can inform, provide support systems to get someone through those horrible nights of symptoms, and provide information about lifestyle changes that can help. There’s still so much that we don’t know about CTE and the brain.” Through CTE Hope, Ali has been in contact with many people with traumatic brain injuries who suspect they have CTE. “It’s hard, given my experience with Zac—what I know he felt and what I felt through him. We want to help individuals so they don’t suffer the same way Zac did. There was no information out there for him. There’s a limited capacity for me to understand their experience, but we can acknowledge what they’re going through is very hard. We can validate that it’s not just in their head.”




CRAFTING A CASE The science of CTE is becoming more and more clear. A 2019 study by Boston University researchers found, “The risk and severity of developing CTE among football players is not correlated to number of concussions, but is instead correlated to the number of years playing tackle football. The risk of CTE increases by 30 percent every year of tackle football, and doubles every 2.6 additional years. This shockingly strong relationship between years of tackle and risk of CTE may be even stronger than the link between years of smoking and risk of lung cancer.” But Ali and CTE Hope face a formidable opponent. “There are a lot of emotions and nostalgia wrapped up in football in our culture,” Ali notes. “You can’t just present people with the science. We have to communicate that we’re not trying to end football forever or tell people that they’re

— Alison Epperson, Class of 2011

wrong for loving it. We are trying to make it as safe as possible and ensure people have all the information to make an informed decision for themselves or their children. We will both get further if we can try to work together than we will if I shout at you that you’re wrong.”

ADVICE TO YOUNG ADVOCATES High school debate was a crash course in advocacy for Ali. “The fundamentals of being an advocate are being able to articulate your story and explain to people what you do. It is so important to have the confidence and the wherewithal to get up in front of five, a hundred, a thousand people and tell them about your cause and what you’re doing. It is equally important to be able to understand, recognize, and acknowledge the other side. To persuade people, you have to understand their position.” Ali first experienced this while preparing to debate

the death penalty in her first LD round. “I was personally very against it, but I think being forced to understand where the other side comes from made me a better advocate.” She uses these same skills as she raises awareness for CTE. “CTE is so intertwined with football and subconcussive hits that a lot of people who love football don’t want to recognize the danger. To get them on your side, you have to be able to relate to them and present your argument in ways that can reach them,” she says. “It can be intimidating to try and speak out given your background or your experience,” Ali concludes. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but if there’s an issue that matters to you, speak out. One person can make a difference, but creating a formal structure for a cause takes time. Keep pushing, keep trying to talk to people and bring them onto your side. It will be well worth it in the end.”

Annie Reisener serves as Membership Manager for the NSDA.

Learn more about CTE Hope and Zac’s story at www.ctehope.org.

National Speech & Debate Association


JOIN THE DEBATE FREE RESOURCES! “As a coach and educator, I like Big Questions because it allows students to discuss big philosophical ideas in a format that all levels of students can attempt. In a time where teachers are constantly told to increase the rigor and broaden the curriculum, this style of debate offers debaters and teachers an opportunity to do both.”


Students across the country are engaging in thought-provoking dialogue through the NSDA’s Big Questions debate series. In year four of Big Questions, students are being challenged to think critically and discover supporting arguments for ideas that may be counter to their own personal beliefs. PREVIOUS BIG QUESTIONS TOPICS INCLUDE:

2016-2017 RESOLVED: Science leaves no room for free will. 2017-2018 RESOLVED: Humans are fundamentally different from other animals. 2018-2019 RESOLVED: Humans are primarily driven by self-interest. Free resources provided to students, coaches, and teachers support the civil, informed conversations that Big Questions seeks to inspire.

Big Questions is presented by the NSDA through a generous grant provided by the John Templeton Foundation.

To get involved with Big Questions, or to access any of the available resources, please visit our website at NSDABigQuestions.org or contact us at info@speechanddebate.org .



Building Community Across 7,000 Miles


n a Saturday in West Fargo, North Dakota, Aryaman Sharma competed in his last speech and debate tournament. He donned his blue suit and put his game face on. As the day came to a close, he and his teammates believed they had competed well and were certain they would take home some trophies. At the closing award ceremony, Aryaman



noticed his parents were present, perhaps to pick him up or celebrate his last home tournament as a senior. After all the awards had been distributed, he was surprised to be called up to the stage. As he stood next to the podium, his coach Kelsey Johnson congratulated him for being selected as one of the top six finalists for the NSDA’s Exemplary Student

by Victor Torres III

Service Award and spoke of his accomplishments. Aryaman was nominated for the award by his coaches because of his work with beyondBASIK, a nonprofit founded by Aryaman in India to ensure that indigent children had a basic access to education, along with his work with the Special Olympics coaching basketball and soccer, as well as being an advocate for the Spread the

Word to End the Word Campaign, a program aimed to eradicate the “r-word.” Little did Aryaman know that his position as a finalist was not the only reason he was called up to the stage. As he stood in front of his community, he was recognized as the winner of the 2020 Exemplary Student Service Award. His hands moved to his mouth and his eyes grew wide. He

had no idea that he had won. Maybe he heard it wrong, but then Kelsey handed him the physical award. It all became real in that moment.

Finding a Place to Belong Aryaman Sharma was born in Rohtak, India (a suburb of New Delhi). After his first birthday, his family emigrated to the United States. They first settled in Pennsylvania but bounced around every few years, living in West Virginia, South Dakota, and ultimately settling in West Fargo, North Dakota, where he is currently completing his senior year at West Fargo Sheyenne High School. Moving around so often led Aryaman to become introverted and reserved; it was tough for him to meet new people or cultivate friendships as he was faced with uncertainty in the time he would have to spend with his new peers. In time, he found speech and debate, an activity that made it not only easy to build friendships and meet new people but also gave him the opportunity to gain mentors and to cultivate

skills that he was unaware he possessed. While living in Aberdeen, South Dakota, Aryaman’s sister, who was in high school at the time, had competed on the speech and debate team. Aryaman was impressed with the activity after seeing the benefits it had brought his sister. He believed this would be an activity that would develop his public speaking skills and provide unique exposure to different stories, facts, and experiences. Aryaman found his voice and a way to support those who have not been afforded the same privileges.

BeyondBASIK Beginnings On a trip to visit family in India, Aryaman noticed young children sitting on the side of the road during school hours. He began to ask around and found out that not all children there receive a basic education. In fact, the most common reason for children not to be in school is because someone in the family is in need of extra assistance; thus, the kids are told to skip school and help around

the house. Aryaman realized that people in the United States, including himself, have privileges not everyone is afforded. This experience led to the founding of his nonprofit, beyondBASIK. BeyondBASIK (“Bus As School for Indigent Kids”) works to provide basic literacy and numeracy skills to indigent children in India. Aryaman transformed abandoned buses scattered throughout Gurgaon into schools that run from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., so that children can help out their families afterward. Aryaman has fundraised locally to support beyondBASIK by working at a paid internship, running lemonade stands, mowing lawns, and shoveling snow. To date, the program has reached roughly 100 students, and Aryaman believes those numbers will continue to grow. When Aryaman went back to India this past winter he made his rounds to the buses, checking on how the program was doing. Stepping onto one bus in particular, a girl named Shiva stood out to him. She was smart and picking up on content in the classroom

rather quickly. There was a moment where she came up to him and said thank you. There was no prompting and this was unexpected. That moment made everything more real and more powerful. “Knowing the children are thankful for the hard work my family and I put into this nonprofit really means a lot,” Aryaman says. “It shows the inherent value education holds in rising out of poverty.”

Defining Service Aryaman recognized that in his community, inherent privileges are taken for granted such as accessible and clean food and a unique educational experience. “Growing up, my parents always instilled in me the idea of giving back. I was told that if one has a stable life

2020 Exemplary Student Service Award Recipient Aryaman Sharma



with food on the table, a roof over one’s head, and an education, they are morally obligated to give back to others who don’t possess the same privilege,” Aryaman says. “I found inspiration through my parents who treat others medically every day and through Lebron James who created an ‘I Promise’ School to give back to his home.” It is through his own efforts and speech and debate that Aryaman is able to cultivate his service and leadership

values in his community. “Speech and debate has exposed me to the problems people face around the world,” Aryaman says. “Through countless speeches, I’ve strengthened my voice and created a platform to better serve others.”

Exemplary Student Service Award The award has been impactful upon Aryaman’s life. “The skills I gained from speech and debate

have empowered me to contribute to my community through service. This proves speech and debate is a valuable activity that empowers students.” Aryaman is grateful to his coaches past and present (Nathan, Kelsey, Stephanie, Krista, Lisa, Adam, Adel, and Abby) for all the work, time, and energy they have put into not only cultivating his public speaking skills but also instilling values in him that will last a lifetime. He is especially

appreciative of his coach Kelsey Johnson. “She motivated me to be the best competitor I could be and the best person I could be,” he says. “I owe everything to her for the impact she has had on my life.” We at the NSDA congratulate Aryaman Sharma for being the recipient of the 2020 Exemplary Student Service Award.

Victor Torres III serves as Colorado College Fellow for the NSDA.

Stop Talking. Start Speaking.

4 Week Policy Camp - June 21 - July 19 1 & 2 Week Sessions - July 5 - 19 A Different Kind of Camp

Sessions and Pricing

At Southwest Speech and Debate, we believe that community is the thing that makes this activity better. We believe that Speech and Debate can be a home for everybody, and enable people to raise their voice, and speak their truth. We pride ourselves in providing a low-cost, high-quality camp experience.

Policy Debate: 4 Week Session (June 21 - July 19) Policy Debate: 2 Week Session (July 5-19) Lincoln-Douglas: 2 Week Session (July 5-19) Public Forum: 1 Week Session (July 5-12) Platform Speaking (OO/Info): 1 Week Session (July 5-12) Interp Events: 1 Week Session (July 12-19) Extemp Speaking: 1 Week Session (July 12-19) Congressional Debate: 1 Week Session (July 12-19) Choose a Week 1 and a Week 2 Session (July 5-19)

Come join us, and find out how you can stop talking, and start speaking!

*Prices listed are for campers who choose to stay in the dorms.

Learn More at swsdi.org

Presented in collaboration with:

$2800 $1400 $1295 $930 $930 $930 $930 $930 $1295


Bak Middle School of the Arts:

Cultivating Confidence by Grace Rogers


any of us look back at middle school with a profound sense of embarrassment, but Alyssa Vaknin, the 2019 Middle School Coach of the Year, views things a little differently. “I love coaching middle school students because every day is a new adventure,” she says. “The ability that middle schoolers have to view life from a different lens, combined with the funny stories they tell, make coaching middle school students an experience like no other.”



Bak Middle School of the Arts in Florida has a large team of around 70 sixth, seventh, and eighth grade speech and debate participants, but Alyssa focuses on making the team feel like family— whether that’s building friendships through collaborative activities or making sure they learn skills that extend beyond the classroom, or even the speech and debate round. “Middle school can be a challenging time,” Alyssa says. “I love being able to assist students with public speaking skills that will help navigate decisions made

in everyday life. Watching students graduate middle school with the confidence to speak publicly, articulate opinions, and understand different perspectives is extremely rewarding.”

BUILDING A TEAM CULTURE The Bak Middle School of the Arts team is about more than learning skills and showing up to competitions—it’s about building a safe environment for students to grow and learn. “I try to cultivate an environment where

students feel comfortable taking risks and making mistakes,” Alyssa says. “Building the confidence to stand up in front of people to communicate a message effectively and know those words are essential is a big part of the learning process during the middle school years.” Her team focuses on more than students being good at their events— they build perseverance to succeed even when confronted with mighty obstacles, both in round and in life. Those lessons begin in the classroom and sometimes can be

challenged with short attention spans. Fortunately, Alyssa has some tips.

KEEPING STUDENTS ENGAGED “As a former Intensive Reading teacher, I learned that if students are not enjoying and involved with what they are learning, they won’t be motivated to learn the instructional content,” Alyssa says. She’s built several games and interactive activities into her curriculum to help keep students interested and focused on the events. Here are a few of her favorites. Four Corners Debate is a favorite of the Bak Middle School of the Arts sixth graders. The four corners of the room are labeled Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, Strongly Disagree, and Somewhat Disagree. An opinion is read and students move to the corner that represents their opinion. Example opinion statements include: cell phones should be allowed for use in school; burritos are better than

tacos; and the individual is more important than the group. The groups discuss the reasons each of them are there and nominate a spokesperson to represent their corner. After four minutes, the spokespeople share the reasoning discussed in their group, and students are given a chance to change groups and ask each other questions. Alyssa also uses an activity she was introduced to at an NSDA coaching workshop called Battle Bars, which randomly divides students into either affirming or negating the topic, Hershey should be America’s national candy. Each group must come up with three strong reasons why Hershey should or should not become our national candy. The reasoning should be supported with evidence. Alyssa uses this as an introduction to Congressional Debate through argumentation. She also recommends Speed Debating. After

learning about ethos, pathos, and logos, the students must use all three persuasive appeals in a short format. Students rotate partners every four minutes, and their opponents keep track of whether or not they used all of the appeals.

MAKING MIDDLE SCHOOL A SUCCESS When asked about the difference between middle school and high school teams, Alyssa returns to the basics. “At this age, students are still learning about which events they prefer and exploring issues they would like to advocate,” she says. “In high school, students have developed more of a sense of self. They have established a preference for certain types of events and are more familiar with the stories they want to tell.” Despite the early phase of exploration, Alyssa encourages her students to speak up and share their opinions on the issues they

care about—it’s something her students remember after they go on to high school. “My voice didn’t mean anything before I joined speech and debate, at least it didn’t mean anything to me,” wrote Melodie Barrau in her nominating essay for the 2019 Middle School Coach of the Year Award. “But Ms. Vaknin chose to help me separate myself from the noise, to be articulate, to be concise, and to be heard.”

ADVICE FOR NEW MIDDLE SCHOOL TEAMS Alyssa says, “I would advise new middle school coaches to ask for help.” She used a combination of NSDA resources and advice from coaches within her county to get her team started. But it’s the supportive speech and debate community that she truly credits with her team’s success. Grace Rogers serves as Marketing Communications Specialist for the NSDA.

Watching students graduate middle school with the confidence to speak publicly, articulate opinions, and understand different perspectives is extremely rewarding.” — Alyssa Vaknin, 2019 NSDA Middle School Coach of the Year ROSTRUM | APRIL/MAY 2020











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Words from the Hall Finding Strength and Balance in Teaching and Coaching by Anita Boyd


hen I sat down

Like the mug, the

to write this

NSDA has been a solid

article for

Universal Challenges

academically, and some

I have had the unique

are unmotivated to

influence in my life and

succeed. Some coaches

Rostrum, I did so after a

opportunity to teach in

my teaching career. The

two school arenas that

have administrators who

long day at school. I usually

NSDA has always been

do not understand this

larger than life for me and

are polar opposites. I

sit for a bit and have a cup

first began coaching in

activity, and we find

of coffee before I tackle

has pushed me (and by

the public system of

ourselves constantly

grading papers, planning for

extension, my students)

Mississippi in the early

justifying this thing we do.

the next day of instruction,

to become the best we

1980s and continued

cooking supper, or even

could be—not just in

teaching in that system

Words of Wisdom

mundane housework

speech competition, but

until I “retired” in 2007.

We all know that

that never seems to get

in everyday life. And the

participation in speech

NSDA has been effective

Since then, I have taught

finished. (Where does all

in a tiny secular private

and debate activities can

of that dust come from?)

in its efforts to afford

school in the same town.

change lives and give many

students from all areas

The public system

of the country, from all

of Mississippi has the

they could never

As I was pondering what

demographics, and from

same challenges most

imagine. Many take those

on earth I could say that

all ethnicities to reach out

public systems face. We

opportunities and astound

would offer words of

and capture achievements.

all know there is never

us with their successes.

enough money or time

Most of us work hard

An Analogy

wisdom, I realized I was


There will always be students who need you and this activity.

Sometimes those

students opportunities

drinking coffee from a mug

achievements aren’t

to help everyone to the

to make that happen—

I bought at my very first

obvious while our

extent we wish. Many

often to the detriment

NFL Nationals in 1987. I

students are still in high

of us fight poverty in

of our own health. We

love that mug! It is solid, it

school, but I can assure

our communities, low

fight for our students

is large, and it is effective

you—your efforts to help

teacher pay, constant

so hard that many of

because it keeps my coffee

them succeed follow them

teacher turn over, and a

us approach burnout.

warmer than any of my

into the real world after

school population that

other cups. In that moment,

they leave. I am reminded

is often unsure of their

myself in 2007, needing

I realized I had an analogy

of this every time I

abilities to compete. Some

a smaller teaching

perfect for the NSDA.

look at my 1987 mug.

students are unprepared

situation, one that did


That is where I found

not require me to direct

with the means to support

my daughter’s words

two to three productions

the students who compete.

of wisdom. There were

per year and coach a large

Teaching is teaching, and

students who needed

speech and debate team.

you are a teacher.”

me and this activity.

by Mary Beth Hertz adapted from Edutopia 1


Yet I could not find it

She was right. The small

in my heart to leave the

school where I went to

Finding Balance

students who counted

teach, and where I still

This is my 13th year of

on me. I felt that I was

teach today, did not have

teaching in this small

abandoning them—until

a speech program. I went

private school, and I now

I had a long conversation

from a large public system

have former students at

with my daughter who was a

to a school with fewer

my current school who join

first-year student in college

than 150 students in grades

the ranks of others I taught

at the time (and, as it turns

7-12. I had 12 students that

in my years of the public

out, wise beyond her years).

first year in my speech

system. They are successful

As a competitor who

and debate class, and I

actresses, speech writers

had to endure her mother

will never forget their

for governors, Broadway

as her coach, my daughter

bewildered looks as I tried

producers, and, because

understood how important

to explain what this activity

life is often ironic, a

speech and debate can

was and what we needed

former student who took

be, because it truly set her

to do to begin a team!

my place as head coach

The parent meeting

this year when I realized

toward her professional


It’s okay if teaching is your life as long as you have a life outside of your classroom. Go for a short weekend trip, get lunch with an old friend, go to the gym during the week, or go for a bike ride. Spend some time when you are not thinking about the classroom, and stay connected to your support group of friends and family.

FIND LESSONS AND OPPORTUNITIES IN EVERYTHING One of the easiest ways to burn out as a teacher is to get stuck in the same routine and practices year after year. Keep it fresh by reading new research on teaching, and by learning, talking, and collaborating with peers inside and outside of your school building. Attend conferences and other structured learning activities. Take on a leadership role in your school through which you can learn new skills or build new connections.

path. Today, she works as a

that followed also yielded

I needed to cut back

lawyer in the office of Title

the same reactions—and

on tournament travel.

IX at the university and

yet we began, and we

law school she attended.

started to have success

NSDA has been behind

in competition. The

me and so many other

daughter said words I think

school supported our

coaches. The NSDA has

we all need to live by. As I

travels monetarily and

sought ways to reach

was telling her how worried

encouraged students to

every competitor and to


I was about leaving my

get involved. The students

offer new opportunities

current students, she said,

and parents realized very

and experiences that

“Mom, you need to slow

quickly that this activity

would help all students

down. You cannot keep up

was valuable and fun.

and educators grow, no

Incorporate humor and laughter into your classroom. Putting on a serious face every day, day after day, is hard. It’s okay to have a good time in the classroom and enjoy yourself. Your students will appreciate your class more, and you will win them over if you seem like you’re having a good time! Letting some humor and laughter into your classroom and making it a pleasant place to be will help counteract feelings of burnout.

Back in 2007, my

this pace after 33 years of

I found out later that

Through it all, the

matter the school they

teaching. Don’t you realize

year the headmaster had

attend. The NSDA helps

that no matter where you

basically made a deal with

those of us who give so

teach, there will always be

those who agreed to try

much of ourselves to make

students who need you

speech and debate: “Give

a difference—and I have

and this activity? It doesn’t

it at least a semester, and

the mug to prove it.

matter whether you teach

then you can quit if you

in a public system that is

feel as if it is not for you.”

struggling to make ends

No one quit the team,

meet or a private school

and the team grew, proving


Anita Boyd is a five-diamond coach and member of the NSDA Hall of Fame.

www.edutopia.org /blog /5-tips-avoiding-teacher-burnout-mary-beth-hertz

Learn more about the NSDA Hall of Fame! www.speechanddebate.org/ hall-of-fame




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Dear Colleagues, The beginning of year 2020 has certainly been unique. We are taking unprecedented measures to protect our public from a virus which to date has no inoculation. During these uncertain times, instruction and guidance from our education-based speech and debate coaches and staff may be more important than ever. While our speech and debate coaches may not be meeting with students in traditional settings, their support and counsel has probably never been more needed. Our students are hurting and confused about the world around them and its current offerings. Many are grieving the loss of their seasons and the loss of their high school experiences. Fear and uncertainty seem to be the mantra. Social interaction and the freedoms associated with attending school, practices, rehearsals, and competitions have been removed for the time being and will most likely be restricted for extended periods of time. This is where our coaches and directors must SHINE! We can model and be examples of how communication can heal. We speak often about the lessons learned through participating in school-based speech and debate activities. Themes such as perseverance, determination, grit, togetherness, compassion, loyalty, and work ethic come to mind. By discussing these characteristics with our young people, our outstanding coaches and directors may provide navigation, understanding, and hope through these inexact times. The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) encourages this dialogue across our great state from those individuals that our students look up to the most—their teachers, directors, and coaches. Leadership at the grass roots level is vitally necessary and what better individual to provide this than “Coach�? No matter what this time of year would normally look like for you, your students all need you! Continue reaching out to them and keep them engaged! Our current adversity provides an unparalleled opportunity to teach, lead, and grow character among our most prized possessions, the young people of our communities. Thank you for your service as speech and debate coaches. Our schools need you now, more than ever! Be safe. Truly,

Susie Susan M. Knoblauch IHSA Administrator for Speech & Debate

Find this and other letters of support on our website:

www.speechanddebate.org/resources 72



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Profile for Speech & Debate

2020 April/May Rostrum  

Volume 94 Issue 4

2020 April/May Rostrum  

Volume 94 Issue 4