The Durham Academy speech and debate program has had an eventful fall, with Upper Schoolers producing spectacular results over 12 virtual competitions. Through their collective efforts, DA has been named by the National Speech & Debate Association as one of the nation’s top 100 programs for the second straight year.
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.
The Durham Academy speech and debate program has had an active fall, with Upper Schoolers participating in six competitions in the month of October alone; five students being named Academic All-Americans by the National Speech & Debate Association; and the DA program being named one of the nation’s top 100 programs of the NSDA’s 3,000 member schools. In addition, the DA Middle School speech and debate program launched with 49 participants.
Despite a shift to online practices and competitions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Durham Academy’s speech and debate team is off to a busy start to the 2020–2021 school year, having competed in four events in September.