FAQ 8: Do I need to compete every weekend?

No. The minimum class requirement is 2 tournaments per semester for first-year novice students, and 3 tournaments per semester for varsity. At least one tournament each quarter is required. Students may choose to compete at more than the minimum (and are encouraged to do so). Competing at more than the minimum offers more educational benefits, opportunities to earn a varsity letter and additional National Speech & Debate Association degrees,  and potentially a spot or spots in post season tournaments.

Tournaments are 40 percent of a student’s grade, so it is extremely difficult to get a good grade if students do not compete. We view tournaments like tests. Students who take no tests do not pass other classes. Debate is no different. The nice thing about debate is, families get to plan their tournament schedule ahead of time so there are no surprises as the semester progresses. If there are extraordinary, extenuating circumstances, we will work with a student. But a simple failure to plan ahead is not sufficient to have this requirement waived.

If a student doesn’t win any rounds at tournaments, or trophies, this will not impact grades. Tournament points are based purely on whether or not students compete, not whether they win or lose. Winning is its own reward, and generally functions as a motivator. Grades will also be based on assignments handed out in class, practice rounds in class and after school, and research assignments. It is entirely possible for a student to get an “A” without ever winning a debate. However, that is unlikely, because if they do everything we teach them, they will find some success.