Hundreds of homeschooled students from several Midwestern states will be gathering in St. Louis to compete in the 2013 Gateway Classic Speech & Debate Tournament from March 6 – 9, and many local volunteers are needed to serve as judges.
Judging a speech or debate competition is easy and enjoyable. Serving as a judge basically involves watching and listening to a small group of talented, energetic young people (mostly high school aged kids, but some pre-teens as well) during timed performances, and then critiquing and ranking them.
These young people aren’t stereotypical teen-agers. They may carry iPods and eat junk food and have Facebook pages, but they’re also polite, articulate and well-dressed. They probably don’t have piercings or tattoos, but they do have dedication and a work ethic.
You might even call them a bit nerdy, but being on a high-school debate team is the kind of extracurricular activity that looks mighty good on a college transcript or law school application. Some alumni of the St. Louis Speech & Debate Club have gone on to such non-nerdy accomplishments as forming successful bands, excelling in medical schools and being commissioned as Navy officers.
At the tournament, students compete in various types of individual speaking events and performances as well as team debates. Participants choose from a varied and colorful list of speech categories, such as humorous, expository, impromptu, original oratory and many others.
The presentations can be quite impressive. They may include a dramatic interpretation of a scene from classic literature, or a well-known Shakespearian soliloquy, or a funny retelling of a contemporary comedy sketch.
Judging requires about three hours, which includes a brief training session to explain what you need to know about the event you’ll watch. A typical speech competition features six to ten kids performing different selections within a category (e.g., extemporaneous, dramatic, etc.). Debate challenges involve individuals arguing one-on-one or in teams of two.
The assigned topics for this year’s debaters are issues of personal privacy and questions about the value of American foreign military presence. At different times during the tournament, each participant must argue both sides of a debate, pro and con.
If you find this invitation to be intriguing, the tournament organizers truly hope you’ll volunteer to help. More than 200 adult volunteers are needed to judge the various events.
Or, if you’re a homeschooling family and you’d simply like to see what speech and debate competition looks like, please come out and observe the participants in action. There’s no admission charge.
The tournament begins this Wednesday, March 6 and concludes on the following Saturday, March 9. Most judges will be needed on Thursday and Friday. The event will be held in classrooms at the non-denominational Southgate Church in Crestwood at 9820 East Watson Road, just southwest of the intersection of Watson and Sappington Roads. For a map or directions, or to get more information about the tournament, please visit the organization’s website at gatewayclassic.homeschooldebate.net.
Judge volunteers can register online, or simply contact the tournament’s recruiter Gail Feeney at (618) 939-7090 or go to firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up. The registration process is quick and easy.
Since many of the tournament’s events take place in the daytime on a weekday, those time slots are great for retirees or people with flexible schedules. In any case, speech & debate judging is a pleasant, interesting way to spend a morning or afternoon. Check it out!