Sign ups to join the 2019 - 2020 Forensics Team and the Student Congress Debate Team will be held in the fall.  Students must sign up to be members of both teams.  Congratulations to all students who are now Speech and Debate Team members.  Although not officially announced, students in grades 9 - 12 may sign up now for Speech and Debate aka Forensics.

    Overall Forensics News:  

    Congratulations to Keegan Huston!  Keegan has earned a Degree of Excellence in the National Speech and Debate Association.  Keegan competed at the national level in Milwaukee; his work at nationals helped him earn his next degree!

    Thank you middle school Student Council!  The team and I appreciate the recognition on going to the national tournament!  The bulletin board showed that you back the team and support their endeavors!

    To the Four Debaters Who Competed at Nationals, thank you for a job well-done!  You represented the school well!  It is great to travel with such respectful and well-mannered young adults!  I am proud of your conduct and performance at Milwaukee!

    Congratulations to Grace!  She will leave BBHS in the next several days; Grace, I have known you and worked with you for the last four years.  You are the ideal all-rounded senior!  I wish you luck at Purdue University!  I will remember your playing ukulele and singing. The team will miss you!

    Speech and Debate team, thanks for the beautiful travel bag!  You really should not have given me a gift.  I have thoroughly enjoyed coaching this team and working with you on your speech and debate skills.  Your motivation, compassion, hard work, and dedication ensure me that this state's and country's future is in good hands!  You have grown as debaters and as students; that is what a coach hopes to achieve.  It has been a blessing knowing each of you and working with each of you.  I hope you will be a team member again in the fall.  Miss O.

    Great job with National Speech and Debate Day with the elementary!

    Congratulations, Heidi Coleman!  You have earned a Degree of Distinction in the National Speech and Debate Association!

    Attention:  Speech and Debate team members:  There will be a pizza party April 29 during your lunch period!

    Thank you Speech and Debate team!  You did a great job at the Woman's Club meeting April 1.

    Congratulations to Nathan Ogline for being named Outstanding Speaker (First Place), Heidi Coleman for being named Superior Speaker (Second Place), Keegan Huston for being named Merit Speaker (Third Place), and to Grace Romesberg for being named Merit Speaker (Fourth Place).  Also, congratulations to Aubrey Weyant for being named Alternate.  These debaters competed at Bellwood-Antis High School March 13.  Speaker Award Winners will represent the Johnstown-Altoona Diocese at the NCFL Grand Tournament Memorial Day Weekend!

    Congratulations to Aubrey Weyant for earning her next Speech and Debate Degree, a Degree of Honor.

    Also, congratulations to Grace Romesberg for earning a Degree of Superior Distinction in the Speech and Debate Association!

    Congratulations to Nathan Ogline for earning a Degree of Excellence in the Speech and Debate Association!

    Congratulations to Nathan Ogline who placed third in Commentary Speaking at the Regional Tournament held at St. Francis University March 4 and 6.  Nathan returned as a Semi-Finalist March 6, and he finished the tournament as a Third Place finalist!

    The team is now preparing for District Congressional Debate and National Speech and Debate Day!

    District Student Congress Debate will be held March 13 at Bellwood-Antis High School.  Regional Speech and Debate will be held March 4 and 6 at St. Francis University!

    Congratulations to the Speech and Debate Team for your performance at the State Qualifying Tournament held at Richland Friday, February 22!  Nathan Ogline and Grace Romesberg both placed as Finalists in Commentary Speaking!  Grace placed sixth, and Nathan placed fifth!  Also, congratulations to Heidi Coleman who placed second in Declamation!

    One of own team members will serve as Presidiing Officer.  District Student Congress Debate will be held March 13 at Bellwood-Antis High School.  

    Congratulations to Grace Romesberg for serving as Presiding Officer and to Nathan Ogline for serving as Interim Presiding Officer at the February 13 Debate.

    Congratulations to Nathan Ogline named Outstanding Speaker, to Heidi Coleman named Superior Speaker, and to Keegan Huston named Merit Speaker the Congress Debate held here February 13.

    Congratulations to Keegan Huston and Aubrey Weyant who earned National Speech and Debate Membership and received a Degree of Merit in the Association!

    Congratulations to Heidi Coleman, Nathan Ogline, and Madeline Tooker; all three Speech and Debate Team members have earned a Degree of Honor in the National Speech and Debate Association!n

    Congratulations to Heidi Coleman who placed second at the speech meet held at Somerset January 24; congratulations to Grace Romesberg who placed fourth and Nathan Ogline who placed fifth!  Congratulations to Keegan Huston and Aubrey Weyant; both competed in Extemporaneous Speaking.

    The Speech and Debate welcomes Aubrey Weyant and Keegan Huston to the team!

    Congratulations to Heidi Coleman on placing first in Declamation at Greater Johnstown High School!  Also, congratulations to Grace Romesberg and to Nathan Ogline on placing third in Commentary Speaking!  

    Heidi Coleman, Madeline Tooker, and Nathan Ogline have earned their second degree in the Speech and Debate Association; they are now Honor Degree members!  Congratulations!

    Congratulations to all Speech and Debate Team members:  Each of you has earned membership in the Speech and Debate Association!  Each of you has earned a Merit Degree!

    Congratulations to Grace Romesberg who served as Presiding Officer, Heidi Coleman awarded Outstanding Speaker, and Nathan Ogline awarded Merit Speaker at the Bellwood-Antis Congress held January 15!

    Congratulations to the Congress Debaters!  Nathan Ogline placed first at the Somerset Congress; he received the Outstanding Speaker Award.  Congratulations to Heidi Coleman who placed second and received the Superior Speaker Award!

    Thank you for the Christmas presents, team members!

    Congratulations to the Speech and Debate Team (aka Forensics).  You did well at your first meet.  Congratulations to Heidi Coleman!  Heidi placed second in Declamation!

    Congratulations to the Student Congress Debate!  You made a splash at your first debate appearance!  Congratulations to Heidi Coleman who was named first at the debate event; she was named Outstanding Speaker at her first debate!

    Good luck to all Speech and Debate Congressional Team Debaters; Monday is their first Student Congress Debate!

    Good Luck to Nathan!  He will compete at the National Catholic Forensic League Grand National Tournament over Memorial Day weekend in Washington, D. C.

    Congratulations to GRACE ROMESBERG, who received a Student Service Citation from the National Speech and Debate Association in recognition of Outstanding Service to Speech and Debate Education. Grace received this citation through activities such as community speaking or outreach, and the NSDA has awarded her a 3rd Degree Citation earned between October 2017 and March 2018.


    Congratulations and thank you, Erik Pryal who presided over a session at District Congressional Debate March 26 at Somerset Junior-Senior High School!  We couldn't have held Congressional Debate without you!

    Congratulations on your performance at State Congressional Debate, Nathan!

    Thank you, Erik Pryal!  Erik will be Presiding Officer for the District Congressional Debate session.

    Thank you, Forensics and Student Congress team members for a good season!  

    Highlights 2017 - 2018

    Congressional Debate News -  

    Congratulations to Nathan Brant who won the Superior Speaker Award at the Somerset Congressional Debate held October 25.  Nathan won the Superior Speaker Award for his speech delivery, his argument, and his ability to answer Representative questions following each debated Bill.  

    Congratulations to Nathan Brant who won the Superior Speaker Award at the Congressional Debate held at Berlin in November.  Again, Nathan's speech delivery, his arguments, and his ability to answer Representative questions following each debated Bill earned him this title.

    Congratulations to Nathan who won the Outstanding Speaker Award at the Bellwood-Antis Congressioinal Debate held January 10, 2018.  Nathan took this top honor for his debate skills, protocol or house rules, for his argument delivery, and his knowledge of each Bill debated during this session.

    Nathan will compete at the District Student Congressional Debate to be held at Somerset High School March 20, 2018.

    Congratulations to Grace Romesberg; Grace's performance at the District Tournament February 9 has earned her a Degree of Distinction in the National Speech and Debate Association!

    Forensics News - 

    Congratulations to Grace Romesberg who placed fourth at a Forensics meet held at Conemaugh Township High School January 29, 2018.  Grace competes in Commentary Speaking.


    * 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

    * 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 





    • 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.