F5 Speech and Debate

We are planning on meeting next year (2018-2019) on Thursday evenings 7-8:30 PM at the Metrolina Christian Academy/First Baptist Church in Indian Trail.

Some information about us and what we do.

We are a very small club. This past year (2017-2018) was our first year as a club. We have had about 5 regular attendees, who really have had a good time together. My 17 year old daughter leads the club while myself and my husband give feedback on debate rounds. Parents are welcome to sit in and give feedback. However, most don't.

We are affiliated with the Stoa Christian Homeschool Debate League. www.stoausa.org

Our club focuses on Lincoln Douglas and Parliamentary Debate (parli). At least that is where the bulk of our club time is spent. We do promote the students to participate in speech and have encouraged students to stay late to get help or feedback on their speeches.


Lincoln Douglas is a one on one person debate. The topic is the same for the whole year. This year the resolution or topic is: Criminal procedure should value truth-seeking over individual privacy.

"The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution secures to “the people” the right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” and further demands that “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Those 54 words raise a host of important value questions: Should relevant, but illegally seized evidence be suppressed from trial? Should our criminal justice system lower protections for criminal defendants to ensure greater rates of conviction? Or would that reduce an important deterrent to illegal conduct by members of law enforcement? This resolution presents those questions and many more. Indeed, it is not limited to federal or even American criminal procedure. The core question that debaters must grapple with is the extent to which society should protect their individual privacy through rules that potentially produce a windfall to criminal defendants." From the Stoa Website


Parliamentary debate, which is based on the British parliament, is a fun, impromptu debate between 2 person teams. The topic for the debate is different for each of the six debate rounds. Teams have 20 minutes to research and prepare for the round using the Internet, friends, parents, other debaters, etc.

However, only notes handwritten by the debaters themselves can be used in the debate. The debate is fairly short lasting only 38 minutes for a round.

Topics for the debate can be serious like “The United States Federal Government should abolish the postal system” or could be light hearted like “Obi-Wan should not have allowed himself to be killed” or something in between like “The pen is greater than the sword.”


Stoa offers a bunch of different speech events. We will not be covering speeches during our regular meeting time of 7-8:30 on Thursdays. But, we will stay late and we are usually there early, if anyone wants to come early or stay late to work on speeches. If you are planning on coming early though, please let us know so we can be sure to be there early.

Some examples of the various speeches listed below are given at our website under the “Types of Speeches" tab. Also see the “Speech Helpful Hints” tab for instructional videos about for all things speech including how to choose a topic.

Just a few notes about some different speech events:


1. Original Oratory – This is an event where a student writes, memorizes, and gives a speech on any topic. The speech has a maximum length of 10 minutes. There is no minimum.

2. Persuasive – In this event a student writes, memorizes, and gives a speech that advocates a certain position or a certain action. Some possible examples I remember from last year – Why we should limit use of palm oil, Why and how to give blood, Why you should be a libertarian, Why we should adopt/help others to adopt children. Maximum speech length is 10 minutes with no minimum.

3. Expository – In this event a student writes, memorizes, and gives a speech with visual aids. The visual aid can be a power point presentation or can be using poster/foam boards…or anything else that you can imagine. Topics I recall from last year were: biographical about a person or group, the Rosetta Stone, and Sugar. Maximum speech length is 10 minutes with no minimum.

4. Demonstration – This is similar to expository but where a student demonstrates how to do something. Can be a Power Point – Last year someone had how to be safe on the Internet…and another was how to make a Power Point presentation. Can be with “real” objects like how to make animals with balloons, how to do some karate/self defense moves, how to mix music like a DJ, basics about tap dance, first aid*, knot tying*, place setting etiquette – what are the purpose of different utensils and plates/glasses*, how to wrap a present*. My own ideas – not seen in competition. Maximum speech time is 7 minutes. No minimum.


1. Extemporaneous – This is a speech given on a current event topic. The student receives 3 possible topics and has 30 minutes to prepare a speech of 7 minutes long (maximum length) with no minimum This is a lot like researching for a parli debate resolution EXCEPT you can’t use the Internet. You have to use files already on your the computer. Luckily, students can purchase Extemp Genie ($30/year) and free until October 1st. https://extempgenie.com/ Generally extemporaneous questions fall into three broad categories – Economic, Domestic (USA), and International.

2. Apologetics – There are 100 questions over 6 categories that are asked about the Christian faith. A list of all the questions is found here.

Our first tournament will use questions from Categories 1,2,and 5 If your student likes to watch videos, a list of some videos from YouTube on the various topics can be found on our club website under "Apologetics Resources." Speeches are 6 minutes long max with no minimum.

3. Mars Hill Apologetics – This is an event where students compare or contrast themes or characters in music lyrics, movies, books, or art to themes or people in the Christian faith. Both classic and current movies, songs, and books are used as well as plays and visual art. A list of the titles used for this year is found here. For our first tournament, we will be using the topics classic movies, classic books, and classic music lyrics. Speeches are 6 minutes long max but no minimum.


1. Open Interpretation – Can be written by the student or can be from a published work. Can be serious, funny, a monologue, a story, a thematic compilation, etc. No limit on added words. Preformed by one person. Maximum time is 6 minutes. No minimum.

2. Duo Interpretation – Like a skit where two students act out a play or book. Must be a published work with an ISBN number. Must follow the words from the work. Can only add 150 of your own words combined for scene transitions or the introduction. Maximum time 10 minutes with no minimum. Usually a lot of fun.

3. Humorous Interpretation – A funny selection from a published play or book preformed by 1 person. Can only add 150 of your own words combined for scene transition or the introductions. Maximum time is 10 minutes with no minimum. (Only big tournaments seem to offer this event)

4. Dramatic Interpretation – A serious selection from a published play or book preformed by 1 person. Can only add 150 of your own words combined for scene transition or introductions. Maximum time is 10 minutes with no minimum. (Only big tournaments seem to offer this event).

Speech events include apologetics (defending one’s Christian faith), Mars Hill Impromptu (using music, moves, and books as a jumping off point in sharing one’s Christian faith), extemporaneous (impromptu talk on current events), dramatic, humorous, duo, or open interpretation (acting out literature or one’s own composition), persuasive speech, expository speech (using props or Power Point), original oratory, and demonstration.


Homeschoolers ages 12-18 as of October 1st are welcome to join us! (These are the age guidelines set by the league Stoa. You must be within these age limits to compete. All are welcome to come and learn with us, however).


This past school year we hosted a total of 3 tournaments. Students attending have been from Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia as well as North Carolina.

Students can also travel to tournaments in other states. The closest tournaments to us are in Atlanta.

This year we plan on hosting 2 to 4 tournaments - all on Saturday.

The prospective dates for our tournaments in Indian Trail are:

  • October 20th - Parli and Speech
  • Dec 1st - Lincoln Douglas and Team Policy and possibly Speech (Team Policy is another form of debate that we do not participate in but we offer it for the benefit of others).
  • Feb 9th (tentative) - Lincoln Douglas and Team Policy and possibly Speech
  • April 6th (tentative) - Parli and Speech

Other area tournaments:

  • November 2 - Annandale, VA (outside of Washington, D.C.) - Lincoln Douglas and Team Policy tournament
  • January 2-4 - Atlanta, GA - All events offered (The McDowells plan to attend this tournament).
  • February 21-22 - Atlanta, GA - Lincoln Douglas, Team Policy, and Parli debate.
  • March 1 - Annandale, VA (outside of Washington, D.C.) - Lincoln Douglas and Team Policy
  • March 8 - Patrick Henry College, Purcellville, VA - Parli
  • March 9 - Patrick Henry College, Purcellville, VA - Speech
  • March 28-30 - Atlanta, GA - All events


During our club meetings, we intend for all students to get a chance to practice speaking although at the first of the year the meetings are more heavy on instruction than participation.

We are going to be working on parliamentary debate first this year and will end that “study” with a parliamentary debate + speech tournament on Saturday, Oct 20th at Metrolina Christian Academy.

Following the Oct 20th parliamentary debate tournament we will begin studying heavily on Lincoln Douglas Debate. In Lincoln Douglas debate we have one resolution that we study for the entire year. This year the resolution will be: Criminal procedure should value truth-seeking over individual privacy.

We plan to host our first Lincoln Douglas tournament Saturday, December 1st at Metrolina Christian Academy.

On December 13th we will have a Christmas Party during the club meeting time.

After the Christmas break beginning on January 10th, we will have a four week rotation of 1) parli practice rounds, 2) drills and advanced instruction, 3) Lincoln Douglas practice rounds, and 4) drills and advanced instruction.

We encourage everyone to participate in speech events although we won’t be using the “main” club time to work on speech. We encourage everyone to stay late or come early for help or feedback on speech events. If coming early, please let us know so we can be sure to be there 30 minutes early. Otherwise, we are always available to stay late. See the Types of Speehes tab for more information about each speech event.


How much time a student wants to devote to speech and debate is really up to him or her.

The "homework" time commitment for speech and debate is a lot greater in the first semester than in the second.

There is not any homework associated with Parliamentary Debate. A lot can be learned during the practice that we will have each week during the club meetings.

Since we are working on parliamentray debate first this year during the club meetings (and speeches before or after the club time), it is strongly encouraged that students work at home preparing their speech events and reading one Lincoln Douglas case per week (via a subscription from Monument or the Helmsmen Institute).

Speech events that I think are good for beginning speakers are original oratory, persuasive, expository, demonstration, open interpretation, and extemporaneous.

Apologetics and Mars Hill are great events but do take some time to prepare. The resources from the Helmsmen Institute appear that they will be helpful in helping students to get up to speed quickly, though.

Our club website has a lot of resources available for self-study. There are two different video series on the basics of Lincoln Douglas under the "Lincoln Douglas" tab. There are also video series on the basics of platform speech (demonstration, expository, persuasive, and original oratory) as well as video series each of the following: Apologetics, Mars Hill, and Extemporaneous. Look under the "Speech Helpful Hints" tab for these video series.

I am also excited about new resources available from a group of former Stoa competitors at The Helmsman Institute. They offer instructions for how to do the various speech events for $20/event/year.

Early work on speech events can benefit the student all year long....allowing the student to participate in a lot of tournaments in that event all year.

And consistent reading all year long on the Lincoln Douglas cases released from either Monument or Helmsmen can help prepare the student for Lincoln Douglas when we hit it hard on October 25th.

Our first Lincoln Douglas tournament for the year will be December 1st although there will be one offered in Virginia on November 2nd.

In my family, a lot of the work for debate happens before that first tournament. For the rest of the year, students tweak their cases, continually improving based on results and feedback from subsequent tournaments.

I would estimate that students would spend 1-2 hrs/week on speech and debate in the fall semester. During the spring, tweeking speeches and debate cases seems to come in spurts a couple of weeks before the next tournament.


There is not any cost to join our club. However, there are expenses associated with competing. Students are encouraged to compete, but it is completely optional.

There is also the optional cost of purchasing a subscription to Monument Publishing, which puts out weekly Lincoln Douglas case ideas throughout the school year. The price increases throughout the year with the summer price being the lowest you will see at $99.

A new resource that I am excited about that would take the place of Monument in my mind is the Helmsmen Institute. The Helmsmen Institute puts out Lincoln Douglas cases and briefs as well as a lot of help (that appears to be very useful) for the different speech events (except demonstration). Each subject is $20/year/student.

Necessary supplies include a kitchen timer, pens, and a legal pad.

Some of the different speech events also have some cost associated with them. To be competitive in extemporaneous, it is helpful for a student to have a laptop and a program loaded on his/her laptop that downloads and organizes various Internet news articles by topic. These programs cost about $25-$30/year.

Students in apologetics need 4X6 index cards and some kind of box to keep them. The students research and make notes on the index cards as they attempt to answer the many possible topics that could be asked.

Students doing Mars Hill use a 3 ring binder to put synopses and other notes concerning the potential books, movies, and songs that they may be asked to speak on.

Students doing expository or demonstration may need to purchase the props needed to illustrate their speech. For expository, this usually involves an easel and some foam board, but PowerPoint presentations on a laptop can be very effective.

Tournament expenses include purchasing dress clothes (new or second hand) if these aren’t already in your student’s closet. At competitions men are required to wear suits or slacks and a sports coat, with a shirt and tie, and dress shoes. For ladies the dress code is a skirt or pantsuits; slacks, skirts or dresses with jackets, and professional dress shoes. Hemlines are to be at least to the knee. Nylons are not required.

Each tournament also has its own registration fees. We have charged $20/debater and $10 for the first speech event and $5 for any additional speech events. Some tournaments charge as much as $40 per debate event.

Most tournaments want competitors and parents to either bring a lunch or purchase the meals offered at the tournament. These meals are usually around $5 but can be as expensive as $8. We try to keep our cost down and have some meal options costing just a couple of dollars. (Slice of pizza, cookie, water bottle).

If your family wants to travel to tournaments, there are the travel expenses on top of the registration and food costs. However, a lot of tournaments do offer host housing, where local families open their homes for out-of-towners to throw down a sleeping bag and take a shower.


In order to host tournaments, we need the parents of our members to have all hands on deck for the duration of the tournament. We need parents to judge rounds (training is provided) and/or to do odd jobs like keep the food and drinks on the buffet table fresh for the judges.

Families should also try to recruit friends, family, and acquaintances to serve as judges at our tournaments. This just helps the students to have fresh faces to critique them.

Up Coming Events

We will be kicking off our speech and debate year on Thursday night, September 6th, at 7 PM in our regular room at Metrolina Christian Academy Building D. We will be going over a lot of this information and doing some impromptu speaking! We look forward to seeing everyone there!

Directions to the Building at Metrolina

We are meeting in building D, a one story red brick building, at the Metrolina Chrstian Academy. If you enter the campus on Gary Drive, you will eventually see to your right a grey building that looks like a house. That building houses the school offices and it has some large maroon letter M's on the outside. Behind that grey building is building D. Enter at the side door that is by the picnic tables under the pine trees.