Can you believe we’re already in the homestretch of the season in Paly Speech & Debate? State and National Qualifier tournaments are just a few weeks away in March…followed by the Tournament of Champions (April 15-17), California State Championship (April 21-23), and National Championship (June 11-16).
It’s been an incredible season so far, with sustained enthusiasm and continuing momentum: we still have 90+ students attending weekly practices, and we’ve ascended to the #9 spot in California program rankings as part of the National Speech & Debate Association! Thank you, everyone, for your ongoing support and engagement in our program.
As we look ahead toward the end of the season, I wanted to share a few updates with everyone.
Paly Speech Showcase on March 6th
On Monday, March 6th, we’ll hold our annual Paly Speech Team Showcase from 5:00-7:00pm in Haymarket Theater! This is a chance to enjoy fantastic performances by some of our Paly Speechies, and to celebrate the 6+ months of hard work they’ve invested in crafting their pieces. Everyone in the Paly Speech & Debate community is invited and encouraged to attend.
Paly Speech & Debate Camp (PASDC)
Our Palo Alto Speech & Debate Camp (PASDC) directors have finalized counselor selections and staffing for our 2023 camp sessions after receiving a record-breaking 50+ applications! Camp will have two sessions this summer: June 5-9 & June 19-23. If you know someone with a child in grades 5-10 looking for summer activities, please recommend PASDC to them!
In the next few months, our PASDC student leaders will be holding mandatory training sessions and workshops for all counselors. Being a PASDC counselor is one of the most important, impactful service commitments in our program. Accordingly, we hold high expectations for our staff as public representatives of Paly Speech & Debate and ensure everyone is well-prepared.
Summer Learning & Coaching Opportunities for PASD Members
Many students & parents have asked about summer opportunities for continuing to learn and practice speech and debate skills. Students are encouraged to ask their coaches about summer camp recommendations for themselves, as there are several excellent day and sleepaway camps around the country. Additionally, if you/your child might be interested in working 1-1 with a Paly Speech & Debate coach during the off-season, please fill out this interest form.
I’ll be in touch again next month with more end-of-season details, including plans for our Annual Banquet in late April. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.
Program Director & Head Coach
It’s hard to believe we’re a quarter of the way through the 2022-2023 season! We’ve held 10 practices and attended 10 tournaments; our membership has shattered records and is still growing, averaging 100+ students each week at practices for the last month. If you weren’t able to attend our Welcome Night & Parent Orientation a month ago, I’d encourage you to watch the recording – especially the superb keynotes by Drew Vetteth ‘23 and Terra Majors ‘23.
Last summer, we set an ambitious goal to break into the top 10 programs in California (we started at #13). Rankings are based on our overall standing in the Honor Society of the National Speech & Debate Association. Although the season is young and rankings will shift, we’ve already proven we can do it: on October 16th, we claimed the #10 spot for the first time. Incredibly, it’s possible we’ll achieve next year’s goal to reach the top 5 by spring.
As a reminder to our students, especially our new members: our program communicates using Slack, including sharing announcements for tournament sign-ups and details about practices. If you haven’t downloaded the app to your computer and/or phone, please do so.
Safety & Wellness
As the school year and season get busier, it’s important for all of us to look out for each other, take time to care for our health & wellness, and remain grounded in focusing on learning and growing more than winning. Everyone deserves to feel supported and able to voice concerns. Please don't hesitate to reach out by email, phone, Slack, or in-person if you're experiencing discomfort, difficulties, or have concerns about someone else. Our school also has several options for reporting incidents.
COVID-19 Requirements & Forms
Our local league, the Coast Forensic League (CFL), requires all students, coaches, judges, and chaperones to complete a COVID-19 Safety Form in order to compete at any CFL tournament. Beginning 1/1/2023 the CFL definition of 'fully vaccinated' will also include the Omicron bivalent booster. Anyone who is not fully vaccinated must get a negative PCR test result before a tournament.
Travel Waiver Permission Slips
Some students are still missing travel waiver permission slips on file, which are necessary for participation at in-person tournaments. Please review the list of received paperwork, and if you’re not on the list, please complete the form.
Check The Calendar
Please review our practice, tournaments, and event calendar and make a habit of checking weekly to ensure you’re aware of all opportunities to participate and compete.
Optional parent/volunteer judge trainings will continue in November, with our next session held on ZOOM from 7:00-8:30pm on Thursday, November 3. Another ZOOM session will be held from 7:00-8:30pm on Saturday, November 12.
Thank you, as always, for your enthusiasm, effort, and commitment to competing with respect, integrity, and kindness. It feels like there aren't enough opportunities in my day to brag about everything amazing happening on our team, because there's just so much of it all around. Please reach out anytime with any comments, questions, or concerns.
On Tuesday, September 13th, we welcomed 55+ novice members to our program at Novice Night – and we expect to welcome even more in the next couple weeks! It's a busy, exciting time for us at PASD. We also wrapped up our first tournament, the University of Kentucky Online Season Opener (UKSO), where Sarabeth Huang '24 & Sophia Kim '24 turned in stand-out performances in Public Forum Debate, making it to the top 16 teams in a highly competitive field of 135+. They earned a Silver Bid to the Tournament of Champions (TOC)!
With practices & tournaments underway, there are quite a few important to-dos for both students & parents. I've created a new centralized tournaments spreadsheet so you can more easily visualize the entire 2022-23 season.
To-Dos For Students
To-Dos for Parents
Kicking Off The 2022-2023 Season!
Our Summer '22 newsletter, written & produced by our Head of Communications, Anna Van Riesen '24, is published!
Our new season is underway: pre-season practices began Tuesday, August 16th, and our student leaders are working hard to plan novice recruitment and the first social events of the season. In the next 6 weeks, we have so much to look forward to, which is all explained below!
What's Happening for New Members?
New Members: How to Join
Any students interested in joining the team should visit this webpage, read the Onboarding Guide, and complete the New Member Form. Once you've done that, we'll add you to our team Slack so you can start participating!
New Members: Novice Welcome Night on September 13th
On Tuesday, September 13th from 6-7pm in the 800 wing, we'll host Novice Welcome Night, led by our Head of Membership, Sophia Kim '24 with help from our Team Captains. Welcome Night will include presentations & activities to introduce the different speech & debate events we compete in, followed by our first team-wide family dinner @7pm, when you can meet varsity members and coaches! Regular practices will continue from 7:30-9:00pm. New members should reach out to Kyle Hietala or a Coach to ask about attending pre-season practices, prior to Novice Night.
What's Happening for Returning Varsity Members?
Returning Varsity Members: Kickoff Party & Club Day Planning on August 30th
Organized by Head of Community, Holden Lee '25 and Head of Membership Sophia Kim '24, our Kickoff Party for Returning Varsity Members will happen instead of practice, Tuesday, August 30th from 6:00-8:30pm in the Media Arts Center (MAC)!
Pre-Season Practices (8/16 - 9/6)
Students should check Slack for the latest details about pre-season practices, as some practices are currently online and others are in-person at different times. You can also check our Program Calendar for details. Family dinners are NOT provided during pre-season practices. Our regular season practices will begin September 13th. New members should reach out to Kyle Hietala or a Coach to ask about attending pre-season practices, prior to Novice Night.
Regular Season Practices (9/13 - onward)
Our regular season practices will begin in-person in the 800 wing on Tuesday, September 13th, with a special event for Novices at the beginning (see above). Students should check Slack for details from their coaches about when to arrive, specific classrooms, and what materials to bring (at minimum, please bring a laptop, charger, paper & pens). Family dinners will be provided!
Which Tournaments are We Attending?
Tournaments are listed on our Calendar.
Please ask your coaches about which tournament you'll be able to attend first, as not all events are offered at every tournament.
We have new t-shirts and more merch on the way!
If you'd like to buy something, please complete the order form.
News for Parents, Guardians & Families
Orientation and Welcome Night for All Students & Families on September 29th
Open to everyone (new members & returning members, plus parents & families), we'll host an orientation and welcome night on Thursday, September 29th from 7:00-8:30pm in the Media Arts Center (MAC), with a ZOOM option also provided. Dinner will NOT be served. The evening will conclude with an induction ceremony for new members.
Supporting The Team: Helping with Donations, Family Dinners, Judging, etc.
There are so many ways for parents & families to support our team, from donating, to providing family dinners, judging at tournaments, and more. We ask all parents/family members to please fill out this form to let us know how you'd be able to help out this year. Contact our Parent Coordinator, Colleen Gormley, with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anna Van Riesen, Head of Communications, writes & publishes our monthly team newsletter.