Debate & Forensics


  • Forensics is the art or study of public discussion and argumentation.  Westminster’s forensics program is devoted to developing students whose clear thinking and effective communication skills will benefit others and glorify God.  The Forensics Team has two components: individual events (IE) and debate.  The IE team is coached by Paul Owen and the debate team is coached by Craig Johnson.  Both are members of the Georgia Forensic Coaches Association (GFCA) and the National Forensic League (NFL).

    National Speech & Debate Association (NSDL) Membership

    Westminster is an affiliate member of the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDL). The NSDL believes communication skills are essential for empowering youth to become engaged citizens, skilled professionals and honorable leaders in our global society. They connect, support and inspire a diverse community of honor society members committed to fostering excellence in young people through competitive speech and debate activities.

    Team events

    Dramatic Interpretation
    This is an individual category in which the selections are dramatic in nature. Selections shall be cuttings from published-printed novels, short stories, plays, poetry, or any other printed-published materials. Presentations must be memorized, without props or costumes. The time limit is 10 minutes which includes an introduction.

    Humorous Interpretation
    This is an individual category in which the selections are humorous in nature. All other rules are the same as Dramatic Interpretation.

    Duo Interpretation
    This is a two-person category in which the selection may be either humorous or dramatic in nature. All other rules are the same as Dramatic Interpretation.

    Impromptu Speaking
    This is an individual category in which a student draws a topic and has two minutes to prepare a speech and then must deliver a speech (without notes) that lasts no more than five minutes. Speech topics range from a single word or phrase, the name of a person, a noun, a well-known saying or quotation, a current event, or an object (such as a fortune from a fortune cookie, a piece of candy, a coin, etc.)

    Extemporaneous Speaking (United States and International)
    A contestant draws three questions, selects one, then has 30 minutes to prepare a speech in response. The contestant utilizes files of published materials (books, magazines, newspapers, online sources) s/he has compiled as a resource for answering the question. At the completion of the 30 minute preparation period, the student speaks on the topic for up to 7 minutes without the use of notes. The NFL divides extemp. into two separate events: United States (dealing with domestic issues), and International (issues beyond US borders).

    This is an individual category in which a student competes in both areas.  Poetry is writing which expresses ideas, experience, or emotion through the creative arrangement of words according to their sound, rhythm, and meaning. Poetry may rely on verse and stanza form.  Prose expresses thought through language recorded in sentences and paragraphs: fiction (short stories, novels) and non-fiction (articles, essays, journals, biographies).

    Original Oratory
    In Original Oratory, a competitor prepares a speech on a topic of his or her choosing, and can be informative or persuasive in nature. The purpose of Oratory is to inspire belief or reinforce conviction. On the high school level, the speech must be delivered without the use of visual aids or notes. The number of directly quoted words from other sources in the speech is limited to 150 words. There is a ten minute time limit for this event.

  • The Westminster debate team was started in 1987 by Dr. John Bartlett (Interim Headmaster). Through the years, it has offered Westminster students the opportunity to develop their skills in critical thinking, research, and argumentation. Our hope is that the students will put these skills to use to create a strong foundation for their Christian faith. Debate is offered as an elective course in the fall semester. The following information provides a snapshot of what Westminster’s program entails.

    Public Forum Debate

    Westminster participates in Public Forum debate, which focuses on topics (resolutions) of national importance. The format includes short speeches and emphasizes the “crossfire” questioning components. Resolutions change each month. Each two-person debate team should communicate in a manner persuasive to the non-specialist or citizen judge. Debaters should display solid logic, lucid reasoning, and depth of analysis; utilize evidence without being driven by it; present a clash of ideas by countering/refuting arguments of the opposing team (rebuttal); and communicate ideas with clarity, organization, eloquence and professional decorum.

    Founders Club members

    The Westminster Founders Club, established in 1997, is an honor given to those four-year varsity debaters who have made important contributions to the Westminster Debate program and have earned an advanced degree in the National Forensic League. Each debater has been awarded with a gavel on Senior Honor’s Night as a token of membership. Charter members (*) are those whose membership was given for accomplishments prior to 1997.

    *GISA Public Forum State Champion
    **GISA State Champion

    Elizabeth Carter*
    Michael Head*2016
    Michael Head*
    Rod Bayless*
    Thomas Williamson2015
    Jacob Criss*
    Ivan Syritsyn*2013Hope Patterson
    Wes Maddox


    Brad Pond


    Sharon Holland


    Mal Lawrence

    Drew Meloan

    Mitchell Snyder
    Katie Stebbins
    Virginia Dent
    Samantha Osteen
    Norm Baunchalk

    Michael Mecredy

    Libby Bitting
    Will Dent
    Palmer Lawrence**

    Ann Cantrell**
    Isaac Robeson**
    Mary Ellen Stebbins**

    Jim Griffin
    David Moody

    Samuel Adams
    Wes Boyd
    Fred Kennedy
    Gavin Ortlund

    Jason Lichtenberg
    Iverson Long
    Jimi Malcolm
    Chris Mullins
    Zach Pollard
    Matt Wells

    Redding Cates
    Daniel Lassiter
    Nick Xenakis 1999
    Colin Smith
    Nicole Thrush1998
    Jeff Bone
    Emily Dixon
    Erin Meeker1997
    Gene Long
    Victoria Nelson1996
    Jacob Townsend

    Brandon Brown
    Rocco Molinaro

    Robbie Host
    Chris Smith

    Amy Hancock
    Dottie Hanks
    Brian Stalcup

    Sloan Oliver
    Carla Wong

    Allen Wallace