About Us

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Join Capital High School’s Speech and Debate Team if you want to:

· develop analytical thinking

· make lasting friendships

· travel for competitive events

· improve your public speaking skills

· learn about local and global issues that matter

· impress your friends with your superpowers

· participate in a fun, spirited community

· write better essays

What events can I compete in?

Speech Events

Extemporaneous Speaking (Extemp)

Personality Type: Studious, Serious (with flashes of humor), Erudite, The Politician

Time: 30 min prep; 5-7 speak

Memorized: No.

Often paired with: Impromptu

A speech answering a current event questions, using statistics, articles, quotes, and anecdotes to support a thesis. Delivered off-the-cuff (novices use a notecard) One of the toughest speech events.

Dramatic Interpretation (DI)

Personality Type: Serious, Multiple Personalities, The Actor

Time: 6-10 minutes

Memorized: Yes

Often paired with: HI or IR

A speech that interprets a serious dramatic scene from either a play or a novel (with some editing). Fully “physicalized,” mostly with multiple characters, each having their own tics, voices, personalities. A full range of movement is allowed. If you’re an actor, or want to be, this is for you.

Dual Interpretation (Duo)

Personality Type: Outgoing, Funny or Serious, Cooperative, Flexible, The Actor

Time: 6-10 minutes

Memorized: Yes

Often paired with: HI

A speech that interprets either a serious or humorous (or mixed) dramatic scene from a play or a novel (with some editing). Fully “physicalized,” often with each person playing multiple characters, each of which has their own tics, voices, impersonations. A full range of movement is allowed. Off-stage focus—actors never directly look at each other. Much preparation and practice involved. A hugely rewarding event.

Expository (Expos)

Personality Type: Studious, Serious, Humorous, Knowledgeable, The Expert

Time: 5-8 minutes

Memorized: Yes

Often paired with: Oratory

A speech to inform about any sort of interesting topic, from calculus to Calvin and Hobbes. Polished, professional, enthusiastic presentation that includes visual aids to maintain interest. A necessary skill in almost any potential career. Our Expository competitors are the envy of their classmates whenever presentations roll around.


Personality Type: Spontaneous, Creative, Erudite, Jon Stewart / Tina Fey

Time: 6 minutes

Memorized: No

Often paired with: Extemp

You’re given six minutes to choose, prep for (without notes), and deliver a speech about a random quote or word. There’s no minimum time limit. Novices usually prep for a minute and a half maximum; advanced speakers prep for less than 30 seconds and can usually speak for the whole remaining 5:30. A great skill to master; this kind of speaking ability will serve you well in many life situations.

Interpretive Reading (IR)

Personality Type: Reflective, Meditative, Profound, The Sage

Time: 5-8 minutes

Memorized: Sort of

Often paired with: DI or HI

If you have a rich, dramatic voice, and love both poetry and prose, and can read both expressively and meaningfully—and can “get” the deeper meaning in literature—this is the event for you. It’s the only event where you read from a script. This event is often populated by beginning speakers, so if you have real reading talent, you can clean up.

Humorous Interpretation (HI)

Personality Type: Spastic, Outgoing, Multiple Personalities, The Class Clown

Time: 6-10 minutes

Memorized: Yes

Often paired with: DI or Duo

When it’s well done, HI is hilarious. Crazy voices, memorable characters, strange physicalizations, and perfect timing are key. If you’re good at impressions, funny voices, or just plain funny, start looking for scripts!


Personality Type: Studious, Serious (with flashes of humor), Passionate, The Preacher

Time: 5-8 minutes

Memorized: Yes

Often paired with: Expository

For the speaker with the thundering voice or the well-timed whisper, for the salesperson who can sell a walk-in closet to a claustrophobe, for the activist who knows exactly what’s wrong with the world and how to fix it. No topic is too big, too small, or too smelly for the right orator.

Debate Events

Public Forum Debate

Personality Type: Studious, Serious, Personable, The Pundit

Two-on-two debate about a current issue (the topic changes monthly). Fast-paced, reminiscent of the CNN show Crossfire, minus the shouting and the cameras. A great event both for polished speakers and debate novices. Goes well with extemporaneous speaking.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate

Personality Type: Studious, Serious, Passionate, Philosophical, The Thinker

One-on-one debate about ethics, philosophy, or law (the topic changes every two months). An event that requires quick wit, razor-sharp logic, impassioned oratory, penetrating insight, and, mostly, an ability to see behind an argument, to uncover its motivation, to tear apart its foundation. Perhaps the most intellectually challenging, and thus the most rewarding, of all speech and debate events.

Cross-Examination Debate

Personality Type: Hardworking, Insightful, Quick-witted, Open-minded, The Games-person

Two-on-two debate about real-world policy options or worldly paradigms (the topic changes every year). An event that requires studious preparation, quick thinking, a broad view and, mostly, an ability to see the moving parts of an argument, to not get caught up in any single argument and lose focus. The event that requires the most preparation and so the most rewarding, but since the topic only changes once a year it allows deep understanding of concepts and topics.

CHS Speech and Debate: a Brief Introduction

Capital High School’s speech and debate team competes at the regional, state, and national level. We’re members of the Washington State Forensic Association and the National Forensic League.

Students choose events with many different styles, formats, and lengths—something for everyone.

All of these events help students develop intelligence, eloquence, and, most important, the confidence to approach any situation with grace and charm. Competition is essential to the program, but learning is our core value. More critical than the trophies we win are the lessons we learn—lessons that will long outlast the thrill of victory.

We offer practices 3-4 times per week, usually on Tues/Wed/Thurs afternoons, plus morning meetings and practices for those involved in sports. Our competitive season runs from late October to March.

If you have any questions about speech and debate, don’t hesitate to call or email Ms. Shine.

What do students need to do to attend tournaments:

• Have paid for an ASB card (we’re a WIAA activity)

• Keep your grades up

• Pay annual dues ($105 new members, $85 returning members, includes NFL dues). This covers our tournament fees and transportation costs

• Attend at least two practices per week

• Choose two or more events (Speech and Debate events all run at different times)

What should competitors bring to a tournament?

• “Professional” attire. Slacks, button-up shirts, ties, suits, skirts, dresses, pantsuits, etc.

• Food and / or money for food (we’re at the tournament all day; most schools provide snacks and beverages, which vary in quality)

• Any important medication (Tums or Rolaids can be helpful, if the competitor gets stomach-nervous)

• Typed copies of memorized speeches and/or photocopies of scripts

• Homework for “down time”

General Schedules

At tournaments, Lincoln-Douglas Debate runs on Friday nights and during the day Saturday

Individual events run during the day Saturday

We leave Capital anywhere from 1:30 to 2:00 Friday afternoons, and 6:00 to 8:00 Saturday morning, depending on the tournament