Speech and Debate

Allowing students to explore their own interests while learning about the world and developing public speaking skills that will last a lifetime.

Our nationally-recognized Speech and Debate program allows students to explore their extracurricular interests while developing public speaking and active thinking skills.

Led by Michael Bausch, Director of Debate and holder of the Grier Family Distinguished Debate Chair and Ian Hopkins, Director of Speech, students in Speech and Debate receive the best hands-on instruction in the state. The wide range of events we coach ensures all students will find an area (or multiple areas!) they thoroughly enjoy, and where they can develop their personal skillset. Regardless of whether students compete in Interpretation Events, Public Speaking Events, Debate Events or a combination of these activities, they are destined to become better presenters and performers, while enjoying a competitive atmosphere as well as a fun and energizing tournament environment.


Extemporaneous Speaking

Speech Events

There are two sub-fields within Speech events, Interpretation (Interp) and Public Speaking, each with several different events. Find out more about them below!

Humorous Interpretation of Literature

In Humorous Interpretation, students take a play, book or movie script and produce a “cutting”—taking segments of the original work, reordering them and creating a compelling 10-minute presentation. The student portrays each character with different voices, body positions and gestures.

Dramatic Interpretation of Literature

Similar to Humorous Interpretation, competitors in Dramatic Interp also produce a 10-minute cutting from a play, book or movie script. While there can be humorous moments, the cutting should produce a compelling and emotive reaction in the audience. Most drama selections are either monologues or two character pieces.

Duo Interpretation of Literature

In this event, two people either act out a scene from a play, book or movie with each person portraying one or more characters, but the students can never look at each other or touch each other at any time; all character interactions must be “blocked” and mimed with creative choreography. Again movement is limited, but when it is used appropriately it can add substantially to the performance. As a result, technical “blocking” and creative choreography is absolutely essential.

Poetry Interpretation

In Poetry Interp, students take either one long poetry piece or a series of poems that are thematically similar and present them. Like all interpretation events, the entire presentation is limited to 10 minutes, though it is often shorter.

Program of Oral Interpretation

New to Colorado in 2015, this incredibly creative event involves combining multiple forms of literature and media to create an argument surrounding a single program or theme.

Original Oratory

In this event a student writes, memorizes and delivers a speech on any topic he or she selects. Because the speeches original works, they can quote a maximum of 150 words from other authors/speakers. Topics range from serious to light-hearted, and the most effective blend the two.

Informative Speaking

Like Oratory, students write a 10-minute speech intended to inform. Speeches can be about anything. Speeches need to be researched with citable sources, but they can be humorous as well as informative.

Extemporaneous Speaking

Extemporaneous speaking involves writing short speeches on current events topics. Students in the event draw three topics at random, selecting one about which to write a speech. Using research assembled in preparation for the event, students then have 30 minutes to prepare a 5-7 minute speech on the topic. In the speech, the competitor takes a side on the topic selected and then explains with evidence. This event helps individuals organize their thoughts, use evidence to make compelling arguments, and develops excellent ‘off-the-cuff’ public speaking abilities.

Debate Events

Each year, Kent Denver students compete in three different debate events: cross-examination, Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum Debate. Find out a bit more about each below!

Cross-Examination/Policy Debate

In two-person teams, students debate both sides of a nationally-selected topic. Topics involve current national and international issues, and contestants debate the same resolution for the entire year; as a result, these debates place a premium on depth of analysis.

Lincoln-Douglas/Value Debate

Individual students in this event debate both sides of a nationally-selected topic that changes every two months. In general, this event concerns philosophical issues of value.

Public Forum Debate

Kent Denver's middle school students compete in this form of debate.

Topics change every month in this two-person-team debate event. This type of debate was originally modeled after the old television show CrossFire, it involves current events being discussed in real time.