National Speech and Debate Education Day

Save the Date - March 1, 2019

Today I am celebrating speech and debate and the life-changing skills this activity gave me and tens of thousands of other students from across the world each year.— Josh Gad, actor and NSDA alum

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Thank You Grams

Sign up below to send a special message to your teachers and administrators! Our forms close February 22, 2019. We will share your notes of appreciation on National Speech and Debate Education Day (March 1, 2019).

Brought to you by the National Speech & Debate Association

Classroom Posters

NSDE Day Student Poster

“Power to the Voice” poster designed by student artist Michael Bole, AW Dreyfoos School of the Arts, Florida

Logos and Graphics

Download our social media graphics and official logos for use in promoting National Speech and Debate Education Day.

Vertical Logo
Horizontal Logo

Ideas for Celebrating

We encourage schools to schedule an event on March 1, 2019, in recognition of teachers and students who are transforming tomorrow through speech and debate education. Get inspired below!

Classroom Activities

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:

  1. Solitude of Self
  2. Whisper of AIDS by Mary Fisher
  3. Dallas ISD Opening Keynote Address
  4. 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:

  1. No references to specific individuals
  2. No disrespectful comments
  3. 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.

Community Events

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 #SpeechandDebateDay when sharing your event on social media.

You can also download our printable posters including one designed by student artist Michael Bole to spread awareness of the day around your school and community!

State and Local Resolutions

In 2018, we worked to secure more than 40 state and local resolutions to spread awareness about our activity. We are thrilled to have so many representatives willing to sponsor legislation in support of speech and debate activities!

If you have leads or connections that could bring a resolution to the floor of your state legislature, school board, or local municipality, please email Mike Rieker. If you’re ready to get the ball rolling, download our resolution templates with helpful tips for passing a state or school board proclamation!

(editable Word documents)

2018 U.S. Senate Resolution

2018 NSDE Day Resolution


Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)


Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-DE)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-IL)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

S.Res.415 – A resolution designating March 2, 2018, 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 2, 2018, 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.

Educator of the Year Award

The NSDA is proud to continue the Educator of the Year Award. Beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, the NSDA is pleased to recognize individual state winners. Each State Educator of the Year is considered for the national award.

We announced the National Educator of the Year as part of our celebration of National Speech and Debate Education Day! Congratulations to Mary Gormley from Montville High School in New Jersey.

Learn more about Mary by reading her personal statement and portfolio including some of her lesson plans.

More coach recognition »

Exemplary Student Service Award

Congratulations to the 2018 Exemplary Student Service Award winner, Brandon Schloss, from Wellington High School, FL. Brandon was selected by a panel of National Student of the Year Award recipients for his work with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Gang Prevention Unit, his experience as an ambassador for the National Campaign to Stop Violence, and for his efforts with Stomp Out Bullying to raise awareness about bullying and cyberbullying prevention.

More student recognition »

Five other students were chosen as finalists in 2018 for their outstanding service to their school, community, city, state, or region using skills they honed through speech and debate.

Madison Alliston – Sacred Heart Catholic School, MS
Jamie Bikales – Lincoln High School, OR
Patrick Childress – Valdosta High School, GA
Chloe Higgins – Nebraska City High School, NE
Suan Sonna – Sumner Academy, KS

Sign Up to Participate Today!

Is your team planning to celebrate National Speech and Debate Education Day 2019? Complete our sign up form and we’ll send you more information! Select someone to be your NSDE Day Captain, and we will work with them directly to ensure NSDE Day is a success at your school. This could be you, or you can designate another coach, student, committee member, parent, or school administrator who can take the lead on your team’s behalf. This year, every team that signs up to celebrate NSDE Day will receive a toolkit with information, resources, and FREE swag! We appreciate all that you do and look forward to supporting your team’s efforts. Get started below!

NSDE Day History

National Speech and Debate Education Day is an important celebration for the speech and debate community. Together, we are celebrating educators, inspiring students, and transforming tomorrow. Click here to see how we’ve recognized this special day in recent years.

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