Speech Team

Welcome to the St. Mary Magdalen Speech Team!

All sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students have an opportunity to be part of the Speech Team. The St. Mary Magdalen team will participate in three tournaments sponsored by Catholic high schools in the Seattle area. Last year, these tournaments occurred in December, January, and February and students travelled to Bishop Blanchet High School, Seattle Prep High School, and Archbishop Murphy Catholic High School. Typically these all-day events are held on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Participation in these tournament-type events is an excellent way for students to evelop speaking skills. Students will experience significant growth in their speaking abilities during each tournament. Participating as a member of the Speech Team is also great preparation for high school.

Parental Involvement

Parental involvement is mandatory for your child to participate on the St. Mary Magdalen Speech Team. The St. Mary Magdalen Speech Team is coordinated and facilitated by parents. Parents are needed to run practices at school and provide judging at tournaments. For practice to be successful, the team needs at least one parent for every three students participating to coach on a weekly basis. Likewise, at least five parents will be needed to judge at the speech tournaments. Training for these tournaments will be offered by Bishop Blanchet in December.

Interested in helping to coach Speech Team? An introductory meeting will be held in early September or October to describe the student and parent expectations, the speech tournament format, and the various speech categories in which students compete.

Speech Tournament Fees

Participation in Speech Team does require a fee. This fee covers registration for tournaments, comprised of the school’s entry fee and students’ individual speech categories fees. Fees must be paid in full prior to competing.

Practicing Your Speech

Being a part of the Speech Team takes dedication. Practice times will be set at the parent meeting early in the year. During practice, which is typically weekly, students will work in small groups, with parent volunteers, to enhance the delivery of their speeches. While students will be provided the opportunity to practice at school, the majority of preparation will need to take place at home.

At home, students are responsible for:

  • writing their speeches
  • selecting, timing, and editing readings
  • preparing their speeches with parental assistance.

Be sure you are ready to work before committing to St. Mary Magdalen’s Speech Team!

Tournament Information and Expectations

Each tournament is divided into two categories: Senior and Junior. 8th grade students compete in the Senior division, and 7th and 6th grade students compete in the Junior division. For each tournament, awards are given for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in each category of each division. Scholarships are also available for 1st place winners in the Senior division.

Dress Code

Participants are expected to dress professionally at speech tournaments. Young men and women should wear nice slacks with either sweaters or buttoned shirts. Young women may also wear nice dresses or skirts. No jeans or untucked shirts are allowed. Likewise, students should reprint their speeches and place the fresh pages in plastic sleeves.

Student selection for tournaments is based on the following criteria:

  1. Priority will be given to 8th graders, then 7th graders, then 6th graders.
  2. Priority will be given to students who are fully prepared and abide by the requirements outlined in the student contract.
  3. If all students meet the above criteria, a lottery system will be used to determine tournament participants.

Speech Categories

Here are the basic rules and descriptions of the types of speeches you can give.

  • Dramatic Interpretive Reading:  A reading of one or more selections from a book (prose), play or poetry that is serious in nature. If two or more selections are read they must be connected by a central theme. Student must also present a short introduction to the reading, and a transition should connect selections when more than one reading is used. Maintain the illusion of reading (occasionally reference the script), have limited movement and gestures (one-step radius), no over-dramatization, no costumes/props. Recreate the character(s), scene and mood of the piece. This is a reading (not an acting) competition.  Introduction YES; TIME LIMIT:  6 ½ to 7 ½ minutes (includes intro) – max = 8 minutes
  • Humorous Interpretive Reading: A reading from a book, play or poetry that is humorous in nature. The same criteria as above apply. Introduction YES; TIME LIMIT:  6 ½ to 7 ½ minutes (includes intro) – max = 8 minutes
  • Duo Interpretative Reading:  A cutting from a published prose or play involving two or more characters. Material can be humorous or serious and is presented by two individuals. This is not an acting event (no costumes, props, etc.).  Presentation must be from a manuscript and focus should be off stage (students speak to the audience, not to each other – they may face each other during the introduction only.) Introduction YES; TIME LIMIT:  6 ½ to 7 ½ minutes (includes intro) – max = 8 minutes
  • Editorial CommentaryThe student will take a position and present a speech he/she has prepared on a topic of current interest/concern. The speaker acts as an editorialist trying to influence the audience toward his/her point of view. The speech is delivered seated as if to a TV camera. NO Introduction: STRICT TIME LIMIT: 1 minute/45 seconds to 2 minutes
  • Impromptu:  Students must “think on their feet” and deliver an organized presentation without the use of notes or other material. Students will wait outside the door until it is their turn to speak. The contestant will be given three choices; a word, a quotation, and a question of social concern. The contestant will have two minutes to prepare and will then speak for a maximum of five minutes on one of the choices. Time signals will be given. NO Introduction: TIME LIMIT: 1 – 5 minutes
  • Oratory: This is a memorized speech written by the student to persuade the audience. Speech must be the original work of the speaker (with no more than 100 words of quoted material).  You will be judged on the content and delivery. Orations may alert the audience to a threatening danger or problem, strengthen devotion to a cause, or eulogize a person. Students must bring a written copy of their speech with him/her.  Past topics have included Using DDT to Fight Malaria, Ending the Death Penalty, Promoting Gun Control, Regulation of Snowmobiles on Public Lands, the Overuse of Antibiotics. NO Introduction: Memorized: TIME LIMIT: 6 ½ to 7 ½ minutes (max = 8 minutes)
  • Expository:  This is a speech written by the student to inform the audience. You will describe, clarify, explain and/or define an idea, object, concept, or process. Visual aids (props) are allowed. The speech should be on note cards. Past topics have included How to Irish Dance, How to Crab, How to Make Sushi, How to Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies, How to Pitch a Baseball, How to Bath A Dog, and even How to Give a Good Speech. PROPS, mostly memorized: TIME LIMIT:  6 ½ to 7 ½ minutes (max = 8 minutes)