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Debate and Oral Interpretation

2017-18 Speech and Debate Travel Schedule

The Oral Interpretation, Speech & Debate programs at Aberdeen Central High School enjoy strong student involvement and combine the art of public speaking with competition in one of the most competitive regions of the United States for speech and debate competition.  A member of the Northern South Dakota National Forensic League district, Central High School's debaters and interpers compete in the number 11th ranked NFL district in the United States (out of 104 districts)!CHS Speech and Debate We are the second largest school in the state for participation and ranked in the top 30 in the country.

Aberdeen Central has one of the nation's fastest growing speech and debate programs with over 100 students involved annually.  The Aberdeen Central High School National Forensic League (NFL) chapter is one of the oldest in the United States earning its charter in 1931.  The National Forensic League is one of the most exclusive honor societies available to high school students. It was created to celebrate and recognize excellence in the area of competitive speech and debate.

In just the past seven years, CHS has placed 40+ entries into the National Speech Tournament!  The National Forensic League hosts the tournament and it is held each June in a different host city.  In just the past few years, our students have competed in Phoenix (AZ), Portland (OR), Oklahoma City (OK), Charlotte (NC), Atlanta (GA), Salt Lake City (UT),  Dallas  (TX), Birmingham(AL), and Philadelphia (PA) as well all over South Dakota.

Oral Interpretation

Oral interpretation is an individual event that involves performing sections of published and printed novels, poetry, plays, and short stories. These selections may also come from any other published materials.  Selections must be performed without props or costumes, and memorized.  The introduction and performed piece must be less than 10 minutes. 

There are three types of Oral Interp:

  • Dramatic ~ A dramatic selection performed by only one person.
  • Humorous ~ A humorous selection performed by a single person.
  • Duo ~ This can be either dramatic or humorous and is performed by two people.


There are 3 different types of Debate:

  • Policy Debate ~  In this type of debate, you have teams of 2.  The topic for this type will consist of a current national question, and will be debated through constructive argument, cross-examination, and refutation. Each team will argue both sides of the topic.

  • Lincoln-Douglas ~  This is a very popular type of debate, with one person per team. The focus of Lincoln-Douglas is values.  A Lincoln-Douglas debater will develop argumentation skills such as value analysis, sound and ethical uses of persuasion, and how to clearly communicate to an audience.  Several topics are covered throughout the year.

  • Public Forum ~  This type of debate is known as the "audience friendly debate." The topics consist of controversial issues, such as those found in newspaper articles.  Public forum debaters will learn and use skills such as argumentation, cross-examination, and refutation.  Each month a new topic will be debated.

Other Individual Events:

An individual event in which the participant draws three questions, selects one, then prepares an answer.  During preparation, the contestant will use a set of files, containing published information, as resources to help answer the question.  After 30 minutes of prep time, the student will perform a seven minute speech in front of one judge.
There are two types of Extemp~

  • International ~These questions only deal with foreign issues.
  • U.S. ~These questions deal with only domestic issues.

Original Oratory 
In this individual event, the orator must choose a topic, research it, and present it to an audience in an original and interesting manner.  The topic chosen is completely up to the orator, therefore, the judging is based only on the depth of development and the presentation.

Student Congress
This event, following the debate season, is basically an individual debate in a legislative setting.  Contestants will research then write pieces of legislation concerning topics they feel will better society and present them at tournaments.  Judging is based on the argumentation ability, Parliamentary procedure knowledge, speaking technique, and overall involvement.


How can I get involved?
Students can get involved by either taking the Debate & American Democracy course, or by talking to any of the coaches.  Students must also be able to maintain a C average in academic classes.

How long does the season last?

  • The Oral Interp has basically two seasons. The first begins in September and ends in December, and the second begins in December and ends in February.
  • The Debate season starts in October and lasts until March.
  • Student Congress starts in March and ends in April.


Kerry Konda, Head Speech & Debate Coach

Roger McCafferty, Head Oral Interpretation Coach

Other Links:
NFL Online
Joy of Tournament

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Aberdeen School District Service Center | 1224 South 3rd Street | Aberdeen, South Dakota 57401 | Phone 605-725-7100 | Fax 605-725-7199
Aberdeen Central High School | 2200 S. Roosevelt St. | Aberdeen, SD 57401  | Phone 605-725-8100 | Fax 605-725-8199