All Forensics Team members agreed to the NSDA Code of Honor.

    Congratulations, Forensics Team!  The first meet is always the toughest, but you persevered.  Congratulations especially to first year team members!  

    Congratulations to Levi Leonard and Michael Cary who demonstrated Congressional Debate at Cambria Heights High School!

    Congratulations to the Forensics Team.  

    Levi Leonard received an NSDA Messenger Bag on Awards Day 2023.


    I have been named to the  NSDA District Leadership Committee!

    Congratulations Berlin Congressional Debaters!  Levi Leonard earned a Merit Speaker Award at District Student Congressional Debate.  All speakers received plaques.

    Congratulations to Levi Leonard who was a Semi-Finalist in Commentary Speaking at the Region NCFL Qualifying Tournament at Saint Francis University.  Speakers/Performers received medallions and certificates.

    Congratulations to to Levi Leonard who was a Third Place Finalist in Commentary Speaking and to Michael Cary who was a Fifth Place Finalist in Extemporaneous Speaking.  The entire team of competing students placed at the District Tournament.  Speakers/performers received certificates and pins.

    Congratulations to Levi Leonard who took second place and was named Superior Speaker at the final regular season Student Congressional Debate held at Conemaugh Valley in mid-February.

    Congratulations to the Forensics Team!  All team members placed in the District Tournament held February 10 at Richland HS.  Congratulations to Levi Leonard who advanced to final rounds winning third place in Commentary Speaking!  And, congratulations to Mike Cary who competed in three rounds of Extemporaneous Speaking; Mike won fifth place!  

    Congratulations to Levi Leonard who placed third in Commentary Speaking at a Forensics meet held at Conemaugh Township in late January 

    Congratulations to Levi Leonard who placed fourth in Commentary Speaking at Conemaugh Township January 10.

    Congratulations to Michael Cary who won the Merit Speaker Award at the first Congressional Debate opener held at Conemaugh Valley HS.

    I have been re-elected Vice President of the Laurel Highlands High School Speech League, and I have been re-appointed as the Pennsylvania Speech and Debate Association PDE ACT 48 Liaison for PERMS. 

    I have been elected to serve as a National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) District Committee Member for another term.  As a Committee Member, I will guide other NSDA coaches to find resources for their team members and will help them determine resources for their teams.

    Speech team Code of Honor oath, 

    "As a student of the National Speech and Debate Association, I pledge to uphold the highest standards of humility, equity, integrity, respect, leadership, and service in pursuit of excellence."

    The code recognizes humility, equity, integrity, respect, leadership, and service.


    The Berlin Brothersvalley High School Speech and Debate Team has earned the Leading Chapter Award in the Pennsylvania District. In recognition for this accomplishment, the team has received a commemorative plaque recognizing the team’s standings from 2015 – 2019.

    The honor is based on student participation and is the highest recognition the team can receive from the National Speech and Debate Association.  The top school’s team per district earns this designation.  Out of more than 3,000 member schools nationwide, the Berlin team is one of 110 to receive the Leading Chapter Award.

    The award reflects at least 200 members and degrees since the school received its charter in 2014. 

    I have been named to the National Speech and Debate Association Leadership Committee.  My term begins in July. In the NSDA, we participate in the Pennsylvania District.  

    Some of my duties include:

    planning and running the district tournament
    recruiting new schools and increasing engagement
    managing financial resources
    determining local award winners

    I will take online training to learn my duties, and the national office will serve as my mentor for my two-year term

    I have received the Donus D. Roberts Coaching Excellence Award in the NSDA Honor Society.  This accomplishment will be listed in an upcoming issue of the Rostrum.  Thank you speech team members!  Your hard work and stellar accomplishments the past two years have enabled me to receive this recognition!  


    * The American Legion sponsors an oratorical contest; visit www.legion.org/oratorical to learn about this contest.

    *Current members of the NFL (National Speech and Debate Association) interested in applying for Academic All American can apply at www.speechanddebate.org/AAA

    *Some of the Institutions listed below also offer scholarship money for those attending that University; others also offer scholarships for those that want to attend summer Forensics programs but need help financially in order to attend.

    *Any team member interested in Summer Institutes can see the coach.  Institute information is from:

    Beehive Forensics Institute  Public Forum Debate; Student Congress; Extemporaneous Speaking; Interp Categories; full scholarships available; WKU - Western Kentucky University

    WKU - Western Kentucky University 

    The University of Texas at Austin

    Florida Forensic Institute

    Simpson College

    Dartmouth College

    Gustavus Adolphus College

    George Mason Institute of Forensics

    Samford University

    Victory Briefs Institute

    Speaking and Debating Academy

    Beehive Forensics Institute

    The Institute for Speech and Debate

    University of North Texas Mean Green Workshops

    SouthWest Speech & Debate Institute

    Champsion Briefs Institute 

    Marian University

    Ohio University

    Claremont McKenna College

    Missouri Western State University

    Missouri State Debate Institute

    Harvard Debate Council

    The Truman Institute

    Millennial Speech & Debate

    Summit Debate

    The University of Texas National Institute in Forensics 

    Mean Green Comet Debate Institute

    Bradley University

    Ross K Smith Debate Workshops

    Emory National Debate Institute

    The Victory briefs Institute

    University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

    * Students may also apply for the USA Debate Team

    * George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs offers a Bachelor of Arts in Political Communication.  In this major, you intern at CNN and government agencies and take classes with professors that have worked at the White House.  More information is at go.gwu.edu/SMPApostcard 

    Global Debate Symposium





    • to promote public speaking and oral communication
    • to help develop skills needed to become an effective communicator
    • to learn by doing
    • to stimulate creativity
    • to promote student participation
    • to build communication skills
    • to become more self-confident and more successful as communicators
    • to develop greater self-understanding
    • to develop expressive thoughts and feelings
    • to listen carefully, organize ideas, argue persuasively, write persuasively, understand nonverbal messages, develop interpersonally
    • to develop speech communication 




    Informative Speaking

    Persuasive Speaking

    Extemporaneous Speaking


    Prose Reading

    Poetry Reading

    Dramatic Interpretation

    Humorous Interpretation

    Duo Interpretation


    Public Forum Debate

    Student Congressional Debate

    Parli Debate - not found at local invitational meets


    Students who are members of the Forensics (Speech and Debate Team) Team must also be a member of the Student Congressional Debate Team.




    There are two different types of Forensics meets - invitational and tournament.  There are three invitations held each year, and there are two tournaments held each year.

    At an invitation event, all team members participate and compete.  Each school is allowed to bring up to five students to compete in each category.  Various schools host the invitationals, and some schools are larger than others.  If any school wishes to bring more than five students in any given category, he/she must ask the host school chairperson for permission to bring more students.

    On the other hand, tournaments must follow rules that umbrella organizations such as the state league or a national league have set.  Because of this, schools competing in a tournament are only allowed to enter two students in each category.  This rule cannot be changed. 

    A.  The district tournament is held usually at Westmont Hilltop High School.  The school competes in District 5.

    B.  The region tournament is held at St. Francis University; this is a two-day tournament.  Students must rank high enough in order to return to the second day of this tournament.

    If more than two students have competed in a category throughout the Forensics season, wins/ranks at invitations, dedication, etc. determine which students attend tournaments.


    School District League Membership and Affliiation

    On the local level, the school is a member of the Laurel Highlands High School Speech League (LHHSSL).  Coach Orendorf is vice-president of the LHHSSL  league.

    On the state level, the district is a member of the Pennsylvania High School Speech League (PHSSL).  At the state level, Berlin competes as a District 5 team.

    Also, on the state level, the school is a member of the Pennsylvania Speech and Debate Association (PSDA).  Coach Orendorf is the Act 48 Chairperson/Liaison and renews the association's membership to be an Act 48 provider for teachers, coaches, and judges across the state helping them earn Act 48 hours for Continued Professional Education.  She is also Vice-President of Speech in PSDA 

    On the national level, the district is a member of the National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL) and also a member of the National Speech and Debate Association, NSDA previously known as the National Forensics League - NFL.

    Also, on the national level, the school is a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations which includes not only sports but also Speech, Debate, and Theatre Directors and Judges.  

    In addition, Coach Orendorf is a member of the National Debate Coaches Association (NDCA).


    Student Membership

    Students may become lifetime student members of the NSDA.  Every time a Forensics team member competes or participates in a public speaking event for service, his/her speaking achievement is recorded at the NSDA website.  When that member has earned 25 points for public speaking events, he/she is now a member of the NSDA and receives a Degree of Merit from the national association.

    As students compete in Speech and Debate Competitions or speak in a community service capacity, they continue to earn points for public speaking events; the number of earned points raises the level of degree students earn in the NSDA.

    Degree Levels 

    • Merit
    • Honor
    • Excellence
    • Distinction
    • Special Distinction
    • Superior Distinction
    • Outstanding Distinction
    • Premier Distinction

    The Forensics Team has received NSDA Charter status.  Valid for three school years, the charter must be renewed at the end of a three-year period.  During the three-year period, a chartered school must enrol 50 new members, student members must earn 50 new degrees.  Failure to enrol 50 new members or degrees results in a charter's suspension.


    Student Degrees - Ranking Order - As students continue to develop skills to become an effective communicator, NSDA confers advanced degrees for special attainments.  


    Degree of Merit

    Degree of Honor

    Degree of Excellence

    Degree of Distinction

    Degree of Special Distinction

    Degree of Superior Distinction

    Degree of Outstanding Distinction

    Degree of Premier Distinction - highest degree given


    Many colleges and universities recognize Forensics achievement and offer scholarship money to students that have actively been involved in their high school's Forensics team and/or debate team.  Also, many colleges that have a Forensics Team program or a debate program recruit high school Forensics students to continue as a member of their team.


    Authentic Learning:


    Students need to gain skills of understanding, speaking, listening, reading, and writing.  Forensics encompasses all of these areas in Language Arts.  Student Congressional Debate teaches critical thinking skills.  Students work with court and political offices such as local judges, attorneys, and politicians in addition to their coaches.  Congress blends other subject area standards or curriculum.  Forensics combines many subject/curriculum/standards with other school academic and performance activities.  Subjects for Student Congressional Debate, Extemporaneous, Commentary, and Impromptu Speaking as well as Informative Speaking, Persuasive Speaking, and Declamation can involve a multitude of subjects across all subject areas including:  Health, Safety, and Physical Education; Family and Consumer Sciences, World Languages, Career Education and Work, U. S. History, World History, Civics, and Government; Geography, Arts and Humanities, Biology, Chemistry, Physics Science Technology and Engineering Education, and even Math.


    Students involved in Forensics (Speech and Debate) improve their communication skills in three ways - analysis, delivery, and organization.  Public Forum Debate, Parli Debate, and Student Congressional Debate increase critical thinking skills and also increase future business leaders' potential.  According to the Journal of the American Forensics Association, fifteen percent of former debaters go on to become top-ranking executives; businesses want employees who have participated in Forensics.  Debate is a decision-making process.  Forensics provides civic forums students need; if no civic forums exist,  then there is no student voice.  Many of our rights depend on debate.  Students need a voice; they will become the future voters and leaders of this country.  Any practice in debate helps them in the decision-making process and helps them cultivate critical thinking skills.




    All Forensics categories includng all debate forms teach students to use credible sites and resources either to search for a Forensics competition piece and background to better understand the selection and its analysis or to find supportive evidence to write a speech or an argument, to train in debate rules, to train how to research, to organize, and to write and deliver an argument.  Furthermore, students learn how to use vocal variety such as pitch, rate, volume, pauses, and stresses and other debate and Forensics tactics to deliver an effective speech or interpretation or to win an argument as an effective debater.




    Forensics accommodates all learners visually, cognitively, and kinesthetically.  Students hear, move, and learn from saying.  All team members must use writing skills to a degree in all categories.




    Students receive score sheets from judges commenting on their performances, presentations, speech delivery, and written speeches as well as their arguments in debate.  The score sheets serve as a means of self-evaluation and provide feedback for additional practice.




    All students must write a speech and deliver that speech for a specific audience.  They use delivery skills, writing skills, and their imagination for creative expression.  All categories involve speech writing to a degree, some more than others.




    All categories are interactive engaging the audience and the judges.  Students in debate research bills/resolutions, activate their prior knowledge, keep up-to-date with current events, write speeches to continue through each step of the debate process including questioning following each speech; they must also learn proper protocol for addressing the Senate or Representative floors.  They practice interaction as they deliver their speeches/arguments/bills/resolutions using vocal delivery, superb gestures, fetching eye contact, and facial expressions to capture their audiences.  Interpers must also do the same to effectively create an image or an emotion to their audience or the impression of a setting for capturing the mood or tone of a literary selection or define the character or another element of a literary selection.  The same is also true of speech categories.