Durham Academy’s speech and debate program was awarded the Eleanor E. Wright Award of Excellence in Debate at the National Catholic Forensic League Grand National Tournament on Monday. The honor designates DA as one of the top five schools participating in the tournament, out of 523 schools.
Speech & Debate
Speech and debate is about so much more than winning arguments. Participation in DA's speech and debate program is a journey into learning about current events, global politics, argumentation, research skills, thinking on one's feet and the ability to stand up in a room full of people and speak with confidence.
Since 2007, DA has had 10 teams finish in the top 10 and five teams place in the top three at the National Speech and Debate Association national tournament — the largest academic competition in the world. In recent years, DA speakers and debaters have won some of the largest tournaments in the country, including Harvard, the University of Florida, the Glenbrooks, George Mason and Wake Forest.
"Speech and debate defined my DA experience. Not only did it give me the skills and confidence to speak up on issues that I care about, both in and out of the classroom, but it also introduced me to a community of students and coaches from across the country who are some of my closest friends and greatest role models to this day."
Eilene Yang '16
The DA speech and debate team typically comprises more than 60 students — including both students who choose to compete locally in North Carolina tournaments, as well as students who compete nationally as part of the travel team.
The team holds regular practices throughout the week for each event, but students often come to additional practices as they see fit. Students who wish to compete locally aren't required to attend a minimum number of practices, but of course, the more often students practice, the faster they progress. When they're ready, team members compete in speech and debate tournaments throughout North Carolina, testing their skills against debaters from other schools.
Varsity-level competitors have the opportunity to travel to national competitions, typically on university campuses. To join the national travel team, there are more stringent requirements — but the advantages of joining the travel squad are many, including travel to wonderful college campuses and cities around the country.
In what coach Crawford Leavoy describes as "an amazing feat" that's a first in the 15-year history of the Durham Academy speech and debate program, the team was honored with the Kurt Earnest Award of Excellence in Speech at the Tarheel Forensic League State Championship Tournament, where the team was also named overall runner-up for the second consecutive year.
The Durham Academy speech and debate program hosted the Tarheel East District Tournament from March 23 to 24.