Two teams sit in opposition, each ready to make their respective points on the designated topic. In another room, other students prepare to give speeches from excerpts in literature or situations based on real life. This is the Speech and Debate club, in which members can either recite speeches or partake in debate. While speech and debate is one club, it comprises two different but complementary entities. Together they form a challenging and competitive academic activity, typically for students in middle school, high school or college, that requires regular practice, dedication and hard work.
Debate is a formal argumentative form of discussion, where two or more people go “head-to-head” against each other using hard facts and evidence to back up their points, thereby allowing discourse participants to discuss contrasting opinions.
Speech is a formal, more open address with different events that a speaker can participate in. For example, interpretive speech is a performance of a scene in a play or a book, or based off of a personal experience. An impromptu speech is a talk that one gives with no preparation. Speech can be performed with a partner or by oneself. In order to further hone their speeches, Speech club members practice in front of the other participants, acting as if these other students were the judges themselves.
The club allows students to individually hone their skills and compete against each other in scrimmages that further improve their abilities. Debate members are able to argue points and find strong evidence to support their stance, which can be used in tasks like crafting argumentative essays. Speech members learn to succinctly express themselves through any number of speeches, like extemporaneous and dramatic. These skills help them prepare for competitions, schoolwork and other extracurriculars that they choose to take.
The Speech experience as well as the Debate experience can be intimidating, but equally rewarding and refreshing for some.
“Since there are so many supportive people, that makes it much easier to deliver a speech,” said Emily Tom ‘23. “Personally, I’m shy and introverted and dislike talking to people, but strangely enough, I like speech and debate.”
Maria Stevenson, ‘19, an experienced public forum debater, also was hesitant to join the team at first, but has not regretted her decision.
“I joined debate because I did Intermediate Speech from sixth and eighth grade and wanted to branch out,” said Stevenson. “Even though it was scary, I just dove in and enjoyed it immensely.”
Like Stevenson, beginning debater Connor Arakaki ‘22 enjoys debate; however she joined the team for a different reason.
“I have always had a passion of public speaking and am interested in current issues, so debate integrates these two things perfectly,” said Arakaki. In addition, I thought that debate would be a cool co-curricular activity to join because it will strengthen my speaking skills and also writing and research skills.”
The Speech and Debate team is perfect for people who are interested in improving their speech or argumentative skills. It enables them to refine these skills by constantly using speech as a way to convey ideas, whether by convincing the judges or an audience of a stance, or reciting a poem. As such, Speech and Debate is not only an interesting club, but it allows students to improve skills they might find challenging. As long-time club member Mariko Jurcsak ‘19 says, “I really like Speech because it is a creative outlet for me. Although I do not write my own script, I can exercise my creativity through my cutting of the piece and character variations.”
The club is preparing for the upcoming `Iolani Debate tournament and the Leeward Community College speech competition on February 2, 2019. Stay tuned, and wish the Speech and Debate members continued success!