Allison Krodinger has taken over the Speech and Debate program at Troy Buchanan High School and is excited to get to work with her students on the fine art of speech and debate.
She currently has 15 students signed up.
The Speech and Debate program runs from October to February, where they attend eight-10 local meets along with district tournaments starting around March.
“The first meeting that we have in September, the speaking students will just be picking their pieces. So what I mean is that they choose different types of interpretations that they’d like to do. These can be dramatic interpretations, duo interpretations, humorous interpretations and these are all using something like a play or a short story or a published work. They can perform these in a 10-minute speech,” Krodinger said.
There are many different aspects of speech and debate.
There are the interpretations, like the ones Krodinger described, along with categories such as informative speaking, original oratory, poetry, storytelling, speaking for the radio and then there are the debate categories: public forum debate, congressional debate and Lincoln-Douglas Debate.
Informative speaking involves the student giving a 10-minute speech on a topic of their choosing, with the goal to educate, not advocate.
Original oratory is where students deliver a self-written speech on a topic of their choosing.
The poetry category is simply oral interpretation of poetry.
Storytelling is where the student chooses a published story that meets the designated themes, themes which range from mystery to fairy tales, and the stories have to be appropriate for young children.
Radio speaking is a five minute radio news broadcast where the speaker sits in an empty room and they have to broadcast their material in a matter of 24 hours, meaning they have one day to come up with a news story and present it.
Students competing in radio speaking get judged on time of broadcast and a slew of other factors.
“They are judged on the time format. The speech has to be between four minutes and fifty seconds and five minutes and five seconds. Time is really essential on this event. There is also that creativity that is involved with radio speaking and to find international, national and local news, to find the weather, to get sports, to be able to think on your feet like a radio announcer would is what they are looking for in this particular competition,” Krodinger said.
On the debate side, the Lincoln-Douglas debate format is used, which is a one-on-one debate format where the students debate a topic provided by the National Speech and Debate Association.
“Those topics can range from individual freedoms versus the collective good to economic development versus environmental protection,” Krodinger said.
Those debates usually last around 45 minutes and are very structured.
“You construct a speech giving your side of the topic, whether it’s pro or con. You really don’t get to decide which side you sit on but you do have to research both sides,” Krodinger said.
The policy debate is a two-on-two debate that focuses on a policy question for the duration of the academic year – the positive team argues a reason to enact that policy while the negative team argues why that policy shouldn’t be enacted. The congressional debate is somewhat of a simulation of the U.S. legislative process. Students generate a series of bills and resolutions for a debate, deliver speeches for and against the topic in a group setting and there is an elected student that serves as a presiding officer.
The debates are judged based on a rubric that the judges follow but Krodinger said that all the judges are different and different judges might be looking for specific things in debates that other judges may or may not be looking for.
“I really do think that whenever you look at skills that are used in the workplace always the top priority of any workplace is communication. I think speech and debate really gives students the chance to enhance these skills. They communicate with one another, communicate with judges, take on leadership positions and get outside of their comfort zones,” Krodinger said.
She said that she really stresses the importance of speech and debate to her students in as realistic terms as she can.
“I always tell my students that if you want to be a lawyer or if you want to be working on being a politician or something like this, you need to join debate because this is what it’s like out there. If you want to be on the radio, if you want to be an actor then you need to look at the speech events and try it out because, honestly, you don’t know what it’s like until you are actually doing it and you are actually on that stage or writing that prompt,” Krodinger said. “It takes a lot of courage for my students to get up there and present what they do because it is so vulnerable and outside the box so I really commend them for it.” The Speech and Debate program meets every Tuesday and Thursday after school until 4 p.m. in Room 124 or the Cave.