The sign up to join the 2022-23 Forensics (aka speech and debate team) team has closed, and the sign-up sheet in the high school office has been removed from that office. Students wishing to join the team now must see the coach or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Congratulations to Speech Team Members. On Awards Day, each team member received an NSDA sweatshirt, NSDA bottle, and an NSDA tote bag.
Congratulations to senior Heidi Coleman! She earned her NSDA cords and a pin. She also received her certificate marking her degrees earned as a Speech and Debate student. Heidi graduates with a Degree of Superior Distinction!
As of May 2022, Sara has earned a Degree of Distinction and Morgan a Degree of Excellence!
Thank you for the plaque, Heidi, Morgan, and Sara!
Thank you Sara and Morgan who attended the April Pius Spring Woman's Club meeting and presented their categories at the meeting! Thank you Pius Spring Woman's Club for the donation made to our program! We used the money to pay for a catered team lunch!
Congratulations to Sara Stoltzfus who was a semi-finalist Poetry Reading in the LHHSSL District 5 National Qualifying Tournament in April 2022! Sara placed fourth as semi-finalist!
We have a Region Champion! Morgan Twombly was crowned Region Champion at the Laurel Highlands High School Speech League National Qualifying Tournament in Informative Speaking at St. Francis University April 12, 2022. Morgan received a region medallion.
Berlin Takes a Clean Sweep at District Congressional Debate. All three will attend the National Catholic Forensic League Grand National Tournament in Washington, D. C. Memorial Day weekend. Each student received a plaque.
Congratulations to Sara Stoltzfus who was named Merit Speaker (Third Place) at the District 5 Student Congressional Debate held in March 2022.
Congratulations to Heidi Coleman who was named Superior Speaker (Second Place) at the District 5 Student Congressional Debate held in March 2022.
Congratulations also to Morgan Twombly who was named Outstanding Speaker (First Place) at the District 5 Student Congressional Debate held in March 2022.
Congratulations to Sara Stoltzfus who won fourth place in Poetry Reading at the PHSSL District 5 State Qualifying Tournament in February 2022; Sara made the switch to this category allowing her only two weeks to prepare for the tournament! Congratulate her on such an accomplishment!
Congratulations to Morgan Twombl who is a PHSSL (Pennsylvania High School Speech League) State Bid Qualifier; Morgan has qualified to attend the Pennsylvania High School Speech League State Tournament held at Bloomsburg University March 18 - 19, 2022. It is difficult for students to earn three consecutive first place wins in competition. Morgan beat the odds!
Congratulations to Morgan Twombly who was named Outstanding Speaker at the Rockwood Congressional Debate held in mid-February 2022.
Congratulations also to Sara Stoltzfus who served as Presiding Officer at the Rockwood Congressional Debate!
Congratulations to Morgan Twombly who has earned a Degree of Merit in the National Speech and Debate Association; Morgan is now a member of the NSDA (National Speech and Debate Association).
Congratulations to Morgan Twombly who again won first place in Informative Speaking at the January 28 Forensics meet at Bishop Carroll. This is Morgan's third consecutive first place win in her category. For each first place win, Morgan earns a bid for the State Tournament. Morgan has earned three bids this speech season. With three bids, she has a chance to attend the State Tournament at Bloomsburg University March 18 - 19, 2022. This year's state tournament will be held virtually!
Congratulations to Heidi Coleman who placed third in Prose Reading at the January 28 Forensics meet held at Bishop Carroll.
Congratulations to Morgan Twombly who again won first place in Informative Speaking at an early-January Forensics meet held at Conemaugh Township High School.
Congratulations to Morgan Twombly and to Heidi Coleman who received the Outstanding Speaker and Superior Speaker Award respectively at the Bellwood-Antis Congressional Debate in early January 2022.
Speech team members took the 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.
Congratulations to Morgan Twombly for placing first in Informative Speaking at the Forensics Invitational held at Conemaugh Township HS December 17.
Congratulations to Heidi Coleman who served as Presiding Officer for the first Congressional Debate held December 15 at BBSD!
I attended the National Speech and Debate Online Conference for 2021 August 3-5, 2021.
Students in grades 9 - 12 may now sign up to join the Forensics team. Sign-up sheet is in the high school office.
Berlin school speech team receives District Award
Three students prepare to attend virtual national student congress tournament
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. All current team members Sara Stoltzfus, Daniel Heider, Zachary Krepelka, Heidi Coleman, and Keegan Huston have contributed to this achievement.
Three students prepare to attend virtual national student congress tournament
Junior Heidi Coleman and seniors Keegan Huston and Daniel Heider will represent the District 5 Laurel Highlands High School Speech League in late May. They will compete in Student Congressional Debate.
The COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the 2020 NCFL Grand National Tournament that had been scheduled to be held in Chicago. This year’s tournament marks the third competition for nationals for Huston and Coleman; it is Heider’s first national competition. The tournament will be held this year, but it will use an online virtual synchronous platform.
Congressional debaters argue congressional bills submitted to the national NCFL committee. Debaters argue on a student congressional floor. Speakers rally for or against a bill and argue to convince their fellow congressmen to support their views. Listening to their congressional peers, they write rebuttals to advance their argument on the floor or refute other congressional views. Following their arguments, they vote to either pass or fail each piece of legislation.
At the District 5 Student Congress held in March, Keegan Huston placed first earning the Outstanding Speaker Award; Heidi Coleman won second place taking the Superior Speaker Award, and Daniel Heider took fourth place receiving the Merit Speaker Award. Their ranks qualified them to compete in the national tournament.
Sign ups to join the Speech and Debate team will be held in September 2021.
Congratulations to Keegan Huston who won Outstanding Speaker, Heidi Coleman who won Superior Speaker, and to Daniel Heider who won Fourth Place Merit Speaker at District 5 Congressional Debate in early March. Keegan, Heidi, and Daniel will represent District 5 at the Virtual NCFL Grand Tournament to be held over Memorial Day Weekend in May!
Congratulations to Daniel Heider who placed fifth in Commentary Speaking at the District 5 Laurel Highlands High School Speech League Tournament in February and to Zachary Krepelka who placed third in Commenatary Speaking!
Congratulations to Heidi Coleman who placed fourth in Informative Speaking and to Zachary Krepelka who placed fourth in Commentary Speaking
Congratulations to Zach Krepelka who won 4th place in Commentary Speaking at last evening's virtual speech meet.
Congratulations to Keegan Huston who received Outstanding Speaker Award at a virtual Congressional Debate. Congratulations also to Heidi Coleman who served as Presiding Officer.
Congratulations to Daniel Heider who was a fifth place finalist in Commentary Speaking at the LHHSSL Regional Tournament.
Congratulations to Heidi Coleman who has earned a Degree of Special Distinction in the National Speech and Debate Association and to Zachary Krepelka who has earned a Degree of Excellence.
Congratulations to Heidi Coleman who has earned a Degree of Distinction, to Sara Stoltzfus for earning a Degree of Excellence, and to Daniel Heider for earning a Degree of Honor in the National Speech and Debate Association1
Congratulations to Dan Heider who is a National Speech and Debate member; Dan has earned a Merit Degree in the Association.
Congratulations to Heidi Coleman who won first place, Outstanding Speaker, at the first Congressional Debate held yesterday; Keegan Huston, who took second place, Superior Speaker, and to Daniel Heider for earning third place, Merit Speaker.
Congratulations to the 2020-2021 Speech and Debate Team: Zach Krepelka, Heidi Coleman, Keegan Huston, Sara Stoltzfus, and Daniel Heider
Congratulations to Zachary Krepelka and Sara Stoltzfus for earning a Degree of Honor in the National Speech and Debate Association!
Congratuations to Keegan Huston for earning a Degree of Distinction in the National Speech and Debate Association!
Speech and Debate Awards 2020
Madeline Tooker - pin and t-shirts
Sara Stoltzfus - pin, t-shirts, and trophy for winning the Merit Speaker Fifth Place award in District 5 Student Congressional Debate
Zachary Krepelka - pin, t-shirts, and trophy for winning the Merit Speaker Fourth Place award in District 5 Student Congressional Debate
Keegan Huston - pin, t-shirts, and trophy for winning the Superior Speaker award second place in District 5 Student Congressional Debate
Nathan Ogline - pin, t-shirts and trophy for capturing the Outstanding Speaker award first place in District 5 Student Congressional Debate
Heidi Coleman - pin, t-shirts and trophy for taking Fourth Place in Declamation at the LHHSSL Regional Tournament for the NCFL Qualifying Tournament
Berlin School Speech Team has a different kind of year, a what could have been year
The Speech and Debate had a great, but different season. This year’s team qualified five students to attend the National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL) Grand National Tournament to be held in Chicago Memorial Day weekend and one student to the Pennsylvania High School Speech League State Tournament held at Bloomsburg State University in mid-March, but neither tournament was held due to COVID-19.
Four Student Congressional Debaters earned the chance to compete at Chicago. Nathan Ogline won the Outstanding Speaker Award (First Place) at the District Student Congressional Debate held at Somerset schools in early March, and Keegan Huston won the Superior Speaker Award (Second Place). This year would have been both Ogline’s and Huston’s second year to compete at the national level. During the speech season, Ogline and Huston also competed in Extemporaneous Speaking in the school district’s speech league, the Laurel Highlands High School Speech League (LHHSSL). Ogline took fourth place in Extemporaneous Speaking at the District Qualifying Tournament in February missing the chance to compete at the State Tournament by one placement in rank.
Zachary Krepelka received the Merit Speaker Award placing fourth at the District Student Congressional Debate Tournament. Krepelka also placed fifth at the District 5 State Qualifying Tournament in February; at this tournament, he competed in Commentary Speaking; his rank earned him the chance to compete at the PHSSL State Tournament which was cancelled in mid-March.
Sara Stoltzfus also received the Merit Speaker Award placing fifth at the District Student Congressional Debate Tournament. Stoltzfus’ rank earned her the chance to compete at the national level in Chicago over Memorial Day weekend. During the year, Stoltzfus also competed in Humorous Interpretation.
This would have been Krepelka’s and Stoltzfus’ first year to compete at the national level and Krepelka’s first year to compete at the state level.
Heidi Coleman also won the chance to compete at the NCFL Grand National Tournament in Chicago. At the Regional LHHSSL Tournament held in early March, Coleman received fourth place in Declamation. This would have been her second year to compete at nationals; last year, she competed in Student Congressional Debate at Milwaukee, and this year, she would have competed in Declamation. Three team members returned to the two-day regional tournament as Semi-Finalists to advance in competition.
“I am proud of this year’s speech team, and I am also sorry that these students could not have gone to compete further at the state level nor at the national level.”
This was a great, but different kind of year for the Berlin Speech and Debate Team.
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!
Thank you Berlin Woman's Club for extending an invitation to attend your April meeting! The students alway enjoy attending your meeting, welcome the chance the showcase their speaking and competition categories, and love sharing their future plans with all of you!
NOW FOR THE SAD NEWS:
Due to the Coronavirus-19, the Pennsylvania High School Speech League State Tournament at Bloomsburg has been cancelled also.
Due to the Coronavirus-19, the Grand National Tournament scheduled for Chicago over Memorial Day weekend has been cancelled. I am truly sorry that the Berlin students, who worked extremely hard this year, will not be able to compete at this tournament. Congratulations to all Speech and Debate Team members! I am admirably proud of what these students have accomplished this speech season.
Congratulations to Nathan Ogline, Keegan Huston, Zachary Krepelka, and Sara Stoltzfus who received speaker awards at District Student Congressional Debate earning the chance to attend the National Tournament representing District 5 in Chicago Memorial Day Weekend! Nathan was named Outstandng Speaker (first place;, Keegan was named Superior Speaker (second place), Zachary was named Merit Speaker (fourth place), and Sara was named Merit Speaker (fifth place)! All four Berlin Congressional Debaters will advance to the Grand National Tournament scheduled for Chicago over Memorial Day weekend.
Congratulations to Heidi Coleman who placed fourth at the Laurel Highlands High School Speech League Regional Competition! Heidi will attend the Natonal Tournament representing District 5 in Chicago Memorial Day Weekend!
Congratulations to Nathan Ogline who served as Presiding Officer at the Berlin Congressional Debate February 13.
Congratulations to Keegan Huston who received Outstanding Speaker Award and to Zach Krepelka who received Superior Speaker Award at the February 13 Berlin Congressional Debate.
Congratulations to Nathan Ogline who won Outstanding Speaker Award at the Congressional Debate at Somerset, December 9 and to Heidi Coleman who won Superior Speaker Award at Somerset also.
Merry Christmas to all Speech and Debate Team members!
Thank you for the scented candle, Nathan! It smells wonderful and has added a nice fragrance to my kitchen!
Congratulations to Nathan Ogline for being named Superior Speaker at the first 2019-2020 school year Congressional Debate!
Congratulations to Sara Stoltzfus who has earned a Degree of Merit in the National Speech and Debate Association!
Congratulations to the Speech and Debate Team! Team members attended the 2019 Demonstration Workshop at Windber High School in late October.
Congratulations to Nathan Ogline who demonstrated Extemporaneous Speaking and to Heidi Coleman and Nathan Ogline who delivered Student Congressional Debate speeches and a bill at the Demonstration Workshop held at Windber High School.
CONGRATULATIONS TO LAST YEAR'S SPEECH AND DEBATE TEAM! BERLIN BROTHERSVALLEY HIGH SCHOOL HAS EARNED THE 2018-2019 LEADING CHAPTER AWARD IN THE PENNSYLVANIA DISTRICT OF THE NATIONAL SPEECH AND DEBATE ASSOCIATION. OUR DISTRICT WILL RECEIVE A COMMEMORATIVE PLAQUE AT THE DISTRICT TOURNAMENT TO BE HELD IN LATER WINTER/EARLY SPRING 2020. BECAUSE WE DO NOT COMPETE AT THIS TOURNAMENT, WE WILL RECEIVE THE PLAQUE AT THE STATE TOURNAMENT AT BLOOMSBURG UNIVERSITY IN MARCH 2020. THIS HONOR IS BASED ON STUDENT PARTICIPATION THROUGHOUT THE SCHOOL YEAR. IT IS THE HIGHEST RECOGNITION OUR SCHOOL CAN RECEIVE FROM THE NATIONAL SPEECH AND DEBATE ASSOCIATION. ONLY THE TOP SCHOOL IN ACCUMULATED MEMBERS AND DEGREES PER DISTRICT EARNS THIS DESIGNATION EACH YEAR. OUT OF MORE THAN 3,000 MEMBER SCHOOLS NATIONWIDE, BERLIN IS ONE OF ONLY 110 TO RECEIVE THE LEADING CHAPTER AWARD. THE AWARDS REFLECTS THE NUMBER OF MEMBERS AND DEGREES EARNED OVER A THREE-YEAR PERIOD! CONGRATULATIONS TO LAST YEAR'S TEAM MEMBERS WITHOUT WHOSE DEDICATION, MOTIVATION, AND HARD WORK, THE SCHOOL COULD NOT HAVE EARNED SUCH A HIGH HONOR: GRACE ROMESBERG, NATHAN OGLINE, HEIDI COLEMAN, KEEGAN HUSTON, AUBREY WEYANT, AND MADDIE TOOKER!
Sign ups to join the 2019 - 2020 Forensics Team and the Student Congress Debate Team have ended. Students must sign up to be members of both teams. Congratulations to all students who are now Speech and Debate Team members. Students that still want to join must see the coach asap.
Overall Forensics News:
The team will attend the Demonstration Workshop at Windber October 24; all Student Congress team members who attended the NCFL Grand National Tournament in Milwaukee will speak about Student Congress; two team members who attended the national tournament will also demonstrate the category; in addition, Nathan Ogline will demonstrate the Extemporaneous Speaking category! Congratulations!
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!
* 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
Gustavus Adolphus College
George Mason Institute of Forensics
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
Claremont McKenna College
Missouri Western State University
Missouri State Debate Institute
Harvard Debate Council
The Truman Institute
Millennial Speech & Debate
The University of Texas National Institute in Forensics
Mean Green Comet Debate Institute
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
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).
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.
- 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.
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.