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Recent Press Releases

2017 Mar PF Topic Announced

February 1, 2017

Based on a nationwide vote, the 2017 March Public Forum topic is, Resolved: The United States should no longer pressure Israel to work toward a two-state solution.

A total of 289 schools and 663 students voted for the resolution. The winning resolution received 54% of the school vote and 54% of the student vote.

For more topics, click here.

2017 Mar/Apr LD Topic Announced

February 1, 2017

The 2017 March/April Lincoln-Douglas topic is, Resolved: The United States ought to guarantee the right to housing.

For more topics, click here.

Say It Media Develops App to Improve Speech and Debate Fitness

The National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) is proud to announce a new partnership with Say it Media and their app, LikeSo: Your Personal Speech Coach. Teachers, coaches, and students can use LikeSo as an educational tool inside and outside the classroom. The app is designed to motivate, track, and measure improvement in speaking skills. LikeSo offers an engaging and effective way to train against verbal habits and practice speaking articulately, confidently, and without all of those “likes” and “sos.” LikeSo is available in the App Store for 99 cents for iOS devices.

Download the complete press release to learn more about the app.

2017-2018 Policy Debate Topic Announced

January 10, 2017

After a nationwide vote, the NFHS has announced that the 2017-2018 Policy Debate topic will be:

EDUCATION REFORM – Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its funding and/or regulation of elementary and/or secondary education in the United States.

For more topics, click here.

2017 Feb PF Topic Announced

January 1, 2017

Based on a nationwide vote, the 2017 February Public Forum topic is, Resolved: The United States should lift its embargo against Cuba.

A total of 99 schools and 328 students voted for the resolution. The winning resolution received 75% of the school vote and 81% of the student vote.

For more topics, click here.

2017 Jan PF Topic Announced

December 1, 2016

Based on a nationwide vote, the 2017 January Public Forum topic is, Resolved: In order to better respond to international conflicts, the United States should significantly increase its military spending.

A total of 379 schools and 936 students voted for the resolution. The winning resolution received 67% of the school vote and 75% of the student vote.

For more topics, click here.

2017 Jan/Feb LD Topic Announced

December 1, 2016

The 2017 January/February Lincoln-Douglas topic is, Resolved: Public colleges and universities in the United States ought not restrict any constitutionally protected speech.

For more topics, click here.

2016 Dec PF Topic Announced

November 1, 2016

Based on a nationwide vote, the 2016 December Public Forum topic is, Resolved: The United States should end Plan Colombia.

A total of 280 schools and 723 students voted for the resolution. The winning resolution received 53% of the school vote and 70% of the student vote.

For more topics, click here.

2016 Nov PF Topic Announced

October 1, 2016

Based on a nationwide vote, the 2016 November Public Forum topic is, Resolved: On balance, the benefits of the Internet of Things outweigh the harms of decreased personal privacy.

A total of 334 schools and 944 students voted for the resolution. The winning resolution received 53% of the school vote and 48% of the student vote.

For more topics, click here.

2016 Nov/Dec LD Topic Announced

October 1, 2016

The 2016 November/December Lincoln-Douglas topic is, Resolved: The United States ought to limit qualified immunity for police officers.

For more topics, click here.

J. Scott Wunn Joins P21 Executive Board

September 27, 2016

P21, the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, recently elected its executive leadership team for 2016-2017. A unique partnership, P21, unites business, government, and education leaders around the goal of preparing all learners to succeed in an interconnected world.

J. Scott Wunn, Executive Director for the National Speech & Debate Association, is among the newly elected members of the P21 Executive Board.

For more information, download the complete press release.

EF Hutton Sponsors Scholarship Awards for Speech and Debate

September 26, 2016

The National Speech & Debate Association is thrilled to announce a new partnership with EF Hutton, the legendary brand in financial services. EF Hutton will award $5,000 scholarships to the champions of the National Tournament beginning in Birmingham in 2017 and continuing for at least two more years. The partnership is an amazing opportunity for the speech and debate community. Please join us in warmly welcoming EF Hutton and thanking them for their generous support!

Download the complete press release for more information!

2016-2017 USA Debate Team Selected

September 13, 2016

The National Speech & Debate Association is proud to announce the 2016-2017 USA Debate Team! From more than 141,000 student members, nine high school students were selected to represent our country on USA Debate.

2016-2017 USA Debate Team:
Aditya Dhar – The Harker School, California
Colette Faulkner – Kingwood High School, Texas
Gaurav Gawankar – Kingwood High School, Texas
Ellie Grossman – The Blake School, Minnesota
Sarah Lanier – Northland Christian School, Texas
Joshua May – Armand Hammer United World College, New Mexico
Ella Michaels – North Hollywood High School, California
Nikhil Ramaswamy – Plano West Sr. High School, Texas
Liz Yount – Harvard-Westlake School, California

Throughout the year, the team will compete in nearly a dozen competitions across the globe from Los Angeles to Bali and Europe.

“These students are some of the best debaters across our country,” said Executive Director J. Scott Wunn. “We’re excited to watch these students embark on an educational experience of a lifetime!”

The team will compete in World Schools style debate, a unique format that combines the concepts of prepared topics and impromptu topics, encouraging students to focus on specified issues rather than theory or procedural arguments. This highly interactive style of debate allows students to engage each other, even during speeches, requires excellent teamwork, and sparks in-depth quality argumentation.

New this year, nine underclassmen have been selected to the USA Debate Development Team. This group of underclassmen will train and practice with USA Debate coaches and alumni to learn more about World Schools Debate.

2016-2017 USA Debate Development Team:
Shreya Agarwala – Greenhill School, Texas
Shreyoshi Das – Flower Mound High School, Texas
Piper Doyle – Palisade High School, Colorado
Emily Grantham – Kingwood High School, Texas
Jordan Hershman – Polytechnic School, California
Matthew May – Palisade High School, Colorado
Leila Saklou – Kingwood High School, Texas
Nicholas Wuthrich – Polytechnic School, California
Connor Yu – The Blake School, Minnesota

2016-2017 USA Debate Team Coaches:
Dr. Sandra Berkowitz – Assistant Coach
R. Shane Stafford – Assistant Coach
Aaron Timmons – Head Coach
Cindi Timmons – Assistant Coach and Team Manager

The mission of USA Debate is to join the global promotion of free and civil discourse, foster international cooperation and education, as well as demonstrate competitive excellence and national pride. To learn more about USA Debate, visit www.speechanddebate.org/usa-debate.

Top Students Win All American Award

September 12, 2016

The National Speech & Debate Association is proud to announce the 2015-2016 All American award recipients.

From more than 150,000 student members of the National Speech & Debate Association, 25 students have been named All Americans, having earned the most points in the National Speech & Debate Honor Society for the 2015-2016 speech and debate season.

“It is a huge honor to receive the All American Award,” said Executive Director J. Scott Wunn. “These are the top speech and debate competitors in the country, and we are proud to recognize their hard work and dedication.”

Student Name School Name State Points
Ethan Morelion Big Spring High School TX 4,464
Ian Hennington Madison Central High School MS 4,000
Matthew Cannon Harlingen High School South TX 3,852
Max Cline Skyline High School UT 3,850
Austin Jang Union High School WA 3,767
Thomas Mosmeyer Holy Trinity Catholic High School TX 3,753
Alexander Gasman ILEAD North Hollywood CA 3,463
Brett Ries Watertown High School SD 3,447
Christine Vo Spring Woods High School TX 3,426
Megan Kline El Dorado High School KS 3,403
Jacob Thompson Des Moines Roosevelt High School IA 3,390
Justin David Graham Trinity Preparatory School FL 3,383
Bennett R. Eckert Greenhill School TX 3,378
William Turk Oxbridge Academy Of The Palm Beaches FL 3,360
Craig Heyne Nova High School FL 3,343
Carol Lee Riverside High School SC 3,317
Alexander L. Trobough Sumner Academy KS 3,280
Shawn Haq El Camino Real Charter High School CA 3,230
Rannyn River Stephens Rock Springs High School WY 3,222
Daniel Drane Des Moines Roosevelt High School IA 3,212
Faizaan Sadruddin NSU University School FL 3,185
Nathan McClendon Manhattan High School KS 3,179
James Anthony Mullen Highland High School ID 3,168
Jacob Wallack NSU University School FL 3,165
Amanda B. Morrison Central High School – Springfield MO 3,161

The All American award is based on a combination of competitive and service points earned in the Honor Society. In order to qualify, a student must have competed once at the National Tournament. To learn more about student awards offered by the Association, visit www.speechanddebate.org/honor-society.

John Templeton Foundation Grant Creates New National Debate Competition

August 22, 2016

The National Speech & Debate Association is pleased to receive a generous three-year grant from the John Templeton Foundation to distribute $470,000 to schools across the country that host a new national debate event, Big Questions Debates.

“Speech and debate provides vital life skills to young people,” said J. Scott Wunn, Executive Director of the National Speech & Debate Association. “The John Templeton Foundation recognizes the educational impact of this activity. Through this grant, we will work together to change lives of students across the country.”

Big Questions Debates is a one-on-one debate format that allows high school students to debate life’s big questions. The topics encourage quality research and critical thinking on complex worldviews that students might not otherwise consider. The topic for the 2016-2017 debates is, Resolved: Science leaves no room for free will.

Through a national application process, the National Speech & Debate Association will select more than 600 educational institutes across the country to host Big Questions Debates. Selected schools can host debates as a tournament event, intra-school scrimmage, classroom event, or supplemental event as long as all application requirements are met. Each institute will be eligible to receive up to $1,700 per event. The most successful students competing in Big Questions Debates will be invited to compete at the 2017 National Speech & Debate Tournament in Birmingham, Alabama.

To learn more about Big Questions Debates, or to apply for funding to host an event, visit www.speechanddebate.org/big-questions.

Minnesota Coaches Selected to Coach USA Debate Team

August 10, 2016

Des Moines, IA – The National Speech & Debate Association is proud to announce two exceptional coaches have been selected to join the coaching staff for the award-winning USA Debate Team. R. Shane Stafford and Dr. Sandra Berkowitz, both current debate coaches at The Blake School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, have been selected as assistant coaches for the 2016-2017 USA Debate Team.

“Together, Shane and Sandy have more than 60 years of coaching experience,” said J. Scott Wunn, Executive Director of the National Speech & Debate Association. “Their wealth of knowledge, expertise, and passion for speech and debate make them great leaders of Team USA.”

Shane Stafford is the Director of Debate at The Blake School. He has coached multiple national and state champions and finalists in Public Forum Debate, Policy Debate, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Congressional Debate, Oratory, and Extemporaneous Speaking. He has coached competitive debate at the high school and collegiate level and led several summer debate workshops, including those at Harvard, Dartmouth, Georgetown, and the University of Southern California.

Sandra Berkowitz is the Assistant Debate Coach at The Blake School. She has also coached at the high school and collegiate level and has award-winning students in Public Forum Debate, Policy Debate, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Congressional Debate, Oratory, Extemporaneous Speaking, Informative, and Rhetorical Criticism. Sandy has taught and directed several summer debate workshops including those at Harvard, Dartmouth, the University of Southern California, and Wayne State University.

Both Shane and Sandra have received countless accolades in speech and debate—most recently, the 2015 Minnesota Coach of the Year award.

“The USA Debate Team is comprised of some of the best high school debaters across the country,” said Wunn. “It’s imperative that we have outstanding coaches to lead the team in international competition and represent our country well. I’m confident and proud of the coaching team we have created.”

The USA Debate Team will compete in nearly a dozen World Schools style debate competitions across the globe throughout the 2016-2017 school year. From Los Angeles to Slovenia and Germany, USA Debate will compete with the best debate teams in the world. Shane and Sandra will assist head coach Aaron Timmons and team manager, Cindi Timmons.

The student members of the 2016-2017 USA Debate Team will be announced September 1, 2016. Visit www.speechanddebate.org/usa-debate for details.

2016 Board Election and Referendum Results

May 9, 2016

Des Moines, IA – After a nationwide vote, the National Speech & Debate Association is pleased to announce that the following individuals will serve four-year terms on the National Board of Directors beginning August 1, 2016: Pam Cady Wycoff (MN), Dr. Tommie Lindsey, Jr. (CA), Timothy Sheaff (IA), and Jennifer Jerome (NE). Congratulations to these outstanding leaders!

In addition, all four Constitutional amendment proposals passed by a majority. The timeline for implementation of individual referendum decisions will be determined by the Board of Directors and communicated to the membership at a later date.

Download the official voting results from Michael A. Eick, C.P.A.

Announcing the 2016-17 District Committees

May 9, 2016

Des Moines, IA – The National Speech & Debate Association is pleased to announce the results of the 2016-17 District Committee elections, effective August 1, 2016.

Committee members are listed alphabetically after the district chair. Elected individuals will be contacted to affirm their interest in the role.

Congratulations to our newly elected leaders!

National Speech & Debate Association Announces 2016 Hall of Fame Inductees

May 3, 2016

The National Speech & Debate Association is pleased to announce its newest inductees into the Hall of Fame, the highest honor for any high school speech and debate coach:

Byron Arthur (LA)
Eloise Weisinger Blair (TX)
Mark Ferguson (IL)
Dr. Alfred “Tuna” Snider (VT)
Robert Shepard (TX)

Each year, nominations are sought from member coaches. In the month of April, current Hall of Fame members and coaches with at least three diamonds vote to determine which nominees will be elected members of this most distinguished body.

The five inductees will be celebrated at the 2016 Hall of Fame Banquet and will be formally inducted at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 16, during the Donus D. Roberts Diamond Assembly presented by Colorado College in the Salt Palace Convention Center – Grand Ballroom.

The Association is proud to honor coaches and teachers who are powering the voice of our future.

Strong Showing for USA Debate at International World Schools Debate Tournament

March 16, 2016

DES MOINES, IA – The USA Debate team placed second in the International World Schools Debate Tournament in Ljutomer, Slovenia, last week. USA Blue placed second and USA Red placed fifth.

“We are extremely proud of the USA Debate team,” said J. Scott Wunn, Executive Director of the National Speech & Debate Association. “These students are competing with some of the best debaters across the world, and they represent the debate community and our country well.”

Fifty teams from 14 different countries including Bosnia, Herzergovina, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, and USA competed in the World Schools Debate Tournament. This is the third year in a row USA Debate has advanced to elimination rounds.

Advancing to finals and placing second was USA Blue, comprised of Nikolas Angelopoulos, Amit Kukreja, and Julia Lauer.

Advancing to quarterfinals and placing fifth was USA Red, comprised of Milan Amritraj, Josh May, and Liz Yount.

The national team was also recognized for outstanding speaking, winning the following awards: Liz Yount, second place and top female overall; Julia Lauer, fifth place; Amit Kukreja, ninth place; Milan Amritraj and Josh May, tied for 10th place, and Nikolas Angelopoulos, 13th place.

United States Senate Designates March 15 as National Speech and Debate Education Day

March 15, 2016

DES MOINES, IA – The National Speech & Debate Association is proud to announce the United States Senate has designated March 15, 2016, as National Speech and Debate Education Day!

National Speech and Debate Education Day was created to recognize and celebrate the positive impact of speech and debate activities on students, schools, and communities.

“Speech and debate changes lives,” said J. Scott Wunn, Executive Director of the National Speech & Debate Association. “From increased attendance to higher test scores, and a rise in college acceptance, speech and debate prepares young people for college, the workforce, and beyond.”

March 15 was selected to coincide with the first-ever World Speech Day, a day dedicated to celebrating speech across the world. From live events to classroom activities, assemblies, and town hall meetings, students, teachers, and community members are using this day to celebrate the importance of speech and debate across the globe!

“Forensics is one of the most important things I’ve ever done,” said Vincent Stephens, speech and debate alum and Director of Popel Shaw Center for Race & Ethnicity. “It’s gotten me through some really great moments from interpersonal interactions to interviewing.”

Speech and Debate Community Mourns Loss of Alfred "Tuna" Snider

December 11, 2015

Des Moines, IA – We are deeply saddened by the loss of Dr. Alfred C. “Tuna” Snider, one of the world’s best known debate figures, who passed away December 11, 2015.

It is impossible to estimate the number of people who have learned from Dr. Snider as a coach, teacher, or colleague, either in person or from one of his many books, podcasts, television appearances, radio shows, and websites. A lifelong learner and teacher, Dr. Snider was also one of the community’s greatest servants. His 10 years of service to the operations of the National Speech & Debate Tournament and debate training activities in more than 44 countries introduced thousands of students and coaches to his laid-back style and engaging instructional techniques.

An international ambassador for global debating, Dr. Snider was instrumental in bringing World Schools style debate to the United States and served as a coach for the USA Debate Team for the past three years. The USA World Schools Debate Invitational champion trophy is named in his honor.

Dr. Snider received nearly every U.S. award connected with debate coaching, including the 2008 NSDA Humanitarian Award. He dedicated the latter 40-plus years of his life to promoting debate and critical communication as an alternative to violence and as a method for achieving a true civil society. Dr. Snider’s vision for the role of debate in the greater world leaves a legacy in which we can all take part.

We extend our sincerest condolences to Dr. Snider’s many friends and family. We will share details about memorial services as additional information becomes available.

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