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2,700 high schools by the National
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NSDA School of Excellence in Debate
2006, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015
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National Speech &
Frequently Asked Questions by Parents of New
Q: What is Debate?
A: Debate is an activity that is open to all students at Bellaire High School who have an interest in speaking or
building skills in argumentation. All high schools across the country debate the same topic. This year's topic for
cross examination (CX) debate is: Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially curtail its
domestic surveillance. While the CX topic will be debated all year, the Lincoln Douglas (LD) topic changes every
two months. Congressional Debate deals with a number of topics that are of importance to society and are debate
the entire season while Public Forum (PF) debate topics change each month. Regardless of whether your student
competes in CX , Congress, LD or PF, we will learn specifics about the topic as well as build solid argumentation
and speaking skills.
Q: What kind of students can succeed in debate?
A: Bellaire High School fosters a learning environment which encourages students to be successful. Experience
has shown that students who possess one or more of the following three traits can succeed in debate: 1)
Academic curiosity. Have they consistently excelled in classwork, shown an interest in current events, or shown
the desire to think through issues analyzing both points of view? 2) Interest in speaking or performing. Have
they participated in speaking contests previously, been involved in plays and the theater, or simply enjoy
performing for others??? 3) Outgoing personality. Students with outgoing personalities generally are not afraid
to take risks that others might view as making a fool of themselves. Those risks when channeled into a debate
round define the difference between an average performance and an excellent performance. While some students
enroll in debate to take advantage of the honors credit, we cannot guarantee to create interest where none existed
previously. Students who have interests in this area of study will find activities that will challenge them as well as
provide some fun. In debate, students can be challenged to meet whatever level of performance and achievement
they would like to reach.
Q: What is a tournament?
A: Debate tournaments are held every weekend (except holidays) from mid August through mid February. A
detailed list can be viewed by clicking the 2015-2016 Travel Schedule. Each school enters the students who want to
compete at that weekend's tournament. Novice division is usually reserved for students in their first year of
debate. Varsity division is open to any student regardless of experience. Most tournaments consist of 3 or 4
preliminary rounds. Sometimes the preliminary rounds are held on one day (Friday) with elimination rounds on
Saturday. There are many tournaments that will hold 3 preliminary rounds on Friday and a fourth prelim round on
Saturday morning before advancing to elimination rounds Saturday afternoon. Regardless of whether the prelims
are held over one or two days, the top 16 to 32 entries (depending on the number of total entries) advance to
elimination rounds. At this point it is single elimination with awards presented depending on the students final
placing. While students can (and do) learn a great deal in class, there is no substitute for tournament attendance.
Tournaments are the laboratory application of things learned in class. Regardless of experience, students are
encouraged to sign up to attend tournaments as early in the first semester as possible. Information concerning
tournament schedules, departure times and participating students will be posted on the Bellaire Debate Parents
page of this web site.
Q: How many tournaments are required?
A: All students enrolled in debate are expected to attend a minimum of six tournaments during the regular
season (mid August thru mid February). Students are allowed to choose the weekends that they participate at
tournaments consistent with the guidelines for tournament sign up. Students are always encouraged to attend
tournaments early in the season while people from other schools are also in the early stages of their preparation.
Tournament season begins August 28-29. There are very few invitational tournaments available after the second
weekend of February.
Q: What is the maximum number of tournaments that may be attended?
A: A student may attend all tournaments if they wish (although this is discouraged). Attending debate
tournaments often requires missing part or all of a students afternoon classes. Maintaining academic excellence in
all courses is an important objective of Bellaire Debate. While most Bellaire debaters are successful in juggling
tournament attendance and academic excellence, those students who show signs of struggling academically will be
encouraged to cut back on tournament attendance until their grades have returned to acceptable levels.
Q: How will tournament participation be graded?
A: Students are expected to be prepared for the tournament they are attending. Merely "showing up" is not
sufficient. For more specific information on tournament grading it is suggested that you contact your students
specific coach Jay Stubbs for Congressional Debate/Public Forum and Griffin Vincent for CX and LD.
Q: How will the issue of "competition" be dealt with in the class?
A: Competition is a vital part of the debate class. The level of competition in the state of Texas is amongst the
highest quality in the nation. Large numbers of students participate in debate across the state. In addition to the
large number of students, our state is blessed to have some of the best coaches in the nation teaching our students.
This combination of students and coaches produces a very high level of performance. Success in debate can be
explained in one sentence If You Are Prepared...Good Things Will Happen. If a student is not prepared, it is not
a surprise to see less than desirable results. On the other hand, tournaments present learning experiences that
cannot be created in the classroom. Each student is asked to give their best effort. Many of our debaters will find
success at tournaments. It is the responsibility of the coaches to present challenging learning experiences and
challenging tournaments for the students. As a student masters one level of competition, they will be exposed to a
more challenging level. Regional and out of state travel are reserved for the top performers on the squad who are
meeting the coaches expectations in line with tournaments of that caliber. There is a place for everyone on the
Bellaire Debate squad ranging from casual participants all the way to students who desire to be the best in the state