The Seattle Academy Debate Team provides high school students with a highly competitive and rigorous elective and extracurricular program. Students who want to participate on the Debate Team are required to take a Debate elective as a course during their regular academic day. This allows students sufficient time to prepare and practice for competition. Our team competes in various events including Policy and Lincoln Douglas Debate, Public Forum Debate, and Congress, which give students the opportunity to plan collaboratively but perform independently if they choose. While the Debate Team isn’t offered to Middle School students, 8th grade students have the option of taking an 8th Grade Debate elective that exposes them to debate methods and events.
Our Speech Team and Debate Team share a simple philosophy: success is the growth of every member in an environment where each individual victory is enjoyed by all. Our team members are challenged to leave their comfort zones, express themselves, and model excellence for SAAS.
- Do I have to be in the debate class to be on the team?
- Do I have to take 8th grade debate to be in debate in Upper School?
- What form of debate does the debate team use?
- Why do I get a grade for debate?
Yes. Students on the Debate Team at SAAS have the opportunity to get in the majority of their practice time during the school day. This means that they can be and often are also competitive athletes who practice their sports every day; employees and interns outside of school; volunteers in their communities; actors at SAAS and elsewhere; Robotics team leaders; etc. We want our students to know that being a national-level competitor in Debate at SAAS does not mean you have to choose only that. The main way we do this is we have Debate as an elective and we scrimmage and research and write intensively during that class time. Students also have homework for this class and work hard to research, write, and revise cases at home. But they do that on their own time and they can set their own schedules, as long as deadlines are met.
You don't have to do debate in Middle School to be part of our team. In fact, many of our strongest competitors started debate their sophomore years. Seniors are often mentors to freshman and sophomores, and juniors who are joining the team for the first time find a place on our team just like everyone else.
SAAS students have done all the major forms of competitive debate, including Policy and Lincoln Douglas Debate. We now focus on Public Forum Debate and Congress as our main events because we find these allow us to be consistent with our philosophy that our students should be able to do things outside of debate as well. For example, Public Forum topics change each month. So, if you are going to nationals for figure skating or ultimate, you can just pick up at your debate research the following week and you won't be behind. Public Forum means you work with a partner. Congress means you complete on your own (supported by all the other SAAS kids doing Congress), so you can set your own schedule.
Because of our unique set up where you take debate as a class to be on the team, you also get a grade in debate. Therefore, the course requirements are the same as those of being on the team: two tournaments in the course of the year is the minimum. Attendance and preparation for these tournaments is the requirement. Your competitive outcome, “break,” or placement in your event has absolutely does not effect your grade. Wins and trophies do not translate to As, nor do losses and lower ranks translate to lower grades.