National Speech and Debate Education Day
Ideas for Celebrating the Day!
We encourage schools to schedule an event on March 3, 2017, in recognition of teachers and students who are transforming tomorrow through speech and debate education.
Classroom Activity #1 – Students prepare a presentation for their class by taking a topic of their choice that is related to the content of the class and offering insights on an issue of concern, with potential changes to address the situation.
Classroom Activity #2 – Examine powerful speeches from unexpected voices. Discussions, essays, or presentations can be arranged in class. Some examples of speeches to examine include, but are not limited to:
- Solitude of Self
- Whisper of AIDS by Mary Fisher
- Dallas ISD Opening Keynote Address
- Ted Blog – 9 talks by impressive kids
Middle School Writing Activity
Middle school teachers can explore scaffolded writing with their students. Click here for more information from our friends at the National Writing Project and Letters to the Next President.
Large Group/Whole School Events
Celebrate Expression Assembly – An assembly where students are afforded an opportunity to express themselves through spoken word poetry, an oratory, an extemp speech, or a debate. After each performance, audience members could be given the opportunity to ask questions about the message—why they framed their opinions the way they did; how they chose what to perform; what motivated them to speak.
Guest Speaker Assembly – The school arranges for a guest speaker to come in and talk about an issue of significance to the student body. That speaker could be anyone. In fact, if the speaker isn’t already a renowned speaker, they embody the theme of “unexpected voices.” At some point, the speech or speaker should touch on how students can use their voice to affect change.
Town Hall Meeting – Using the town hall concept, students have the opportunity to ask administrators their perspectives on issues important to them. Possible topics could include the impact of early release for professional development on single family homes or working class families; grading policies; bullying; amount of homework; AP classes; or diversity at the school. The principal can lead the Town Hall and have their leadership team on stage with them. A student leader would offer an opening address and outline the ground rules for the questions:
- No references to specific individuals
- No disrespectful comments
- Constructive questions or perspectives only
The opening speech should also be a chance for the student leader to offer a 5-10 minute State of the School speech. Once the speech is over, the event would be turned over to the principal. The principal would make some opening comments and then start the town hall.
Celebrate with Mentorship – Recognize National Speech and Debate Education day by planning a day of mentorship for your program. To get started, reach out to teachers in local elementary schools or middle schools that don’t have existing programs, and celebrate the day by introducing speech and debate to a new generation. Inspire them to speak up, engage, and think critically.
Host a Showcase and Meet the Team Event – Teachers, students, and alumni can work together to open the doors of their program to the community with a Speech and Debate Day. Invite teachers, students, parents, friends, administrators, and school board members to come see the team perform and talk with students and alumni about the value of speech and debate.
Spread the Word
Use this custom template to invite guests to your National Speech and Debate Education Day event! Be sure to use the hashtag #transformingtomorrow when sharing your event on social media.
You can also download printable posters to spread awareness of the day around your school and community.
This year, we are working to secure national, state, and local resolutions to spread awareness about our activity. We are thrilled to have state representatives willing to sponsor legislation in the following states!
Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin
If you don’t see your state listed above and have leads or connections that could bring a resolution to the floor of your state legislature or local municipality, please email Steve Schappaugh.
You can download the resolution template here if you’re ready to get the ball rolling!
2017 Proposed Senate Resolution
A resolution designating March 3, 2017, as “National Speech and Debate Education Day”.
Whereas it is essential for youth to learn and practice the art of communicating, with and apart from technology;
Whereas speech and debate education offers students myriad forms of public speaking through which to develop their talents and exercise their unique voice and character;
Whereas speech and debate gives students the 21st century skills of communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration;
Whereas important ideas, texts, and philosophies have the opportunity to flourish when they have been analyzed critically and communicated effectively;
Whereas personal, professional, and civic interactions are enhanced by their participants’ abilities to listen, concur, question, and even 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, after-school, and weekend hours to equip students with life-changing skills and opportunities;
Whereas National Speech and Debate Education Day emphasizes the lifelong impact of providing citizens with the confidence and preparation to both discern and share their 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 instruction and its integration across grade levels and disciplines: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate—
(1) designates March 3, 2017, 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 citizens to celebrate and promote National Speech and Debate Education Day.
Thank A Teacher Gram
Students and alumni, send your teachers a special message on March 3, 2017. Share your appreciation on National Speech and Debate Education Day!
Congratulations to member students Michael Bole and Cindy Ha for winning our poster design contest! Download their printable posters and help spread the word about National Speech and Debate Education Day.
Students, we want to hear from you!
High school students are some of the best mentors for middle school speakers, interpers, and debaters. We value the tremendous work that these mentors do for speech and debate! As we celebrate National Speech and Debate Education Day, we invite all high school students to share the activities they’ve designed for middle school students. Share your ideas on social media with the hashtag #transformingtomorrow, and your resource may be featured on our website (with authorship credit).
U.S. Senate Resolution
Last March 15, 2016, the hard work of our students and coaches, along with the value of speech and debate, were officially recognized by the United States Senate!
Co-sponsors include Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Delaware), and Sen. Angus King, Jr. (I-Maine).
National Speech and Debate Education Day: Video Showcase
In honor of the inaugural National Speech and Debate Education Day, we asked alumni and students the question: “How did your experience in speech and debate help you get to where you are today?”