Policy debate is an extracurricular activity where two teams of two people competitively discuss issues of United States governmental policy. Each year, a yearlong topic is determined and teams debate whether that topic, or “resolution,” is a good or bad idea. The affirmative will advocate for the resolution by proposing a plan. Conversely, the negative will argue against the affirmative plan by proving that the affirmative has not met their prima facie burden and thus a policy change is not warranted; that a better policy option exists; that the plan is philosophically unsound; or, that the plan is procedurally unfair. This season's topic: Resolved: The United States federal government should enact substantial criminal justice reform in the United States in one or more of the following: forensic science, policing, sentencing.
Big Question Debate (BQ)
Big Questions is a debate format supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. High school and middle school students debate complex worldview questions. Big Questions debate format involves opposing contestants debating a topic concerning the intersection of science, philosophy, and religion. Students can compete as individuals or as a team, this means rounds can be 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2, or 1 vs. 2. Topics will address deeply held beliefs that often go unexamined. Students are assigned a side of the topic before each round and present cases, engage in rebuttal and refutation, and participate in a question period.
This season's topic:
Resolved: Objective morality exists.
DUDL Original Oratory
In this event, competitors have written original pieces. Although many orations deal with a current problem and propose a solution, the judge is expressly reminded that this is not the only acceptable form of oratory. The oration may simply alert the audience to a threatening danger, strengthen its devotion to an accepted cause, or eulogize a person. The orator should be given free choice of subject and judged solely on the effectiveness of its development and presentation. The composition should be considered carefully for its rhetoric and diction. The use of appropriate figures of speech, similes and metaphors, balanced sentences, allusions, and other rhetorical devices to make the oration more effective should be noted especially. Delivery should be judged for mastery of the usual mechanics of speech -- poise, quality and use of voice, bodily expressiveness, and for the qualities of directness and sincerity which impress the oration upon the minds of the audience.
Impromptu is a speaking event entered by individuals where students draw a topic and present an organized speech on that topic with limited preparation. Impromptu topics typically include quotes, one word abstract prompts, facts, and questions. Each student shall draw three topics from the envelope provided to them in the round and immediately select one topic. Timing begins the moment the selection of the topic has been made.
Drama gives students the opportunity to select, interpret, and perform a piece of literature. This literature can be humorous or dramatic in nature and may be entered as a single competitor entry or duo. Prose, Plays, and screenplays may be used in the Drama category. Poetry may not be entered in the Drama category. Literature in the Drama category and must be published* and cannot be self-authored. Presentations may not use physical objects or costuming.
Drama Interpretationfocuses on a student’s ability to convey emotion through the use of a dramatic text. Competitors may portray one or multiple characters. Using a play, short story, or other published work, students perform a selection of one or more portions of a piece up to ten minutes in length.
Humorous Interpretation is designed to test a student’s comedic skills through script analysis, delivery, timing, and character development. Competitors may portray one or multiple characters. Two competitors team up to deliver a ten-minute performance of a published play or story. Using off-stage focus.
DUO Interpretation competitors convey emotion and environment through a variety of performance techniques focusing on the relationships and interactions between the characters.
Poetry gives students the opportunity to interpret and perform poetic literature. The Poetry category will now include both original poetry authored by the performer and published* poetry. Material does not have to be memorized, but memorization is encouraged.
A simulation of the U.S. legislative process in the Senate and the House, students generate a series of bills and resolutions for debate in congressional debate. This event permits students to participate in parliamentary debate. Legislation is prepared by the students in advance of the tournament, Students debate the merits of the legislation presented. Students are assessed on their research, argumentation, and delivery skills, as well as their knowledge and use of parliamentary procedure.