The Notre Dame Speech and Debate Team (formerly known as Forensics) has a long-standing tradition of excellence in competitive public speaking and debate.  Students have the opportunity to develop their communication skills as well as representing our school at several tournaments throughout the school year.

Practices Monday night from 6:30pm-8:30pm in Rooms 2 and 3.

The first meeting is September 14 on Zoom. Parents are welcome and encouraged to attend.


Mr. Sal Rizzo, Head Coach

Mrs. Suzy Gunkle, Assistant Speech Coach

Mr. Stuart Kramer, Assistant Debate Coach


Coach Sal Rizzo

I have been involved with the Notre Dame Speech and Debate program (fka Forensics) for 41 years. Under the tutelage of the late Mrs. Eleanor Wise, I competed as a junior and a senior. I volunteered for the program for 14 years and I have been the coach for the better part of 25 years. I have coached several state and national award winners including the 2005 National Right to Life Oratory Contest National Champion, the 2014 National Speech and Debate Association Congressional Debate House National Champion and several state champions. Also one of my students was selected to be part of Team USA  in World Schools Debate. Our team has won several sweepstakes awards including a Debate Schools of Honor award from the National Speech and Debate Association and two Diocesan Cumulative Sweepstakes awards.  I currently serve as a member of the Pennsylvania High School Speech League District 8 Tournament Committee and have promoted speech and debate in several public appearances including a 2017 appearance on the Dare to Care radio program out of Marion,  Illinois. I also had the privilege to serve on the Pennsylvania High School Speech League 2016 State Tournament Committee.   I served as the PA Mideast Regional Coordinator for the National Right to Life Oratory Contest, from 1993-2014  through the support of Pennsylvanians for Human Life, Bethlehem/Easton Chapter of which I have been president since 2004.

Attention Parents who were unable to join in on the Judges Training:
Here’s the link for the Judges Training video from 10/28/2020.  It’s about 1 hour and 45 minutes and also 1.2GB.  It can be view in a web browser or downloaded and view outside of the browser.  The first 2 minutes are mostly a blank screen so let anyone watching know to skip to the 2:00 minute mark.

Student Officers

Gwendolyn Guo, President
Catherine Mahoney, Vice-President

Parent Board


2005 National Champion

Fr. Stephan Isaac’s Career Highlights

  • 2005 National Right to Life Jane B. Thompson Oratory Contest National Winner (see Fr. Stephan’s Championship Speech in Resources section below)
  • NSDA Degree of Outstanding Distinction
  • Four-time NCFL National Qualifier: 2003: Original Oratory; 2004: Student Congress Semifinalist; 2005: Student Congress Semifinalist; 2006: Student Congress Finalist
  • Two-time PHSSL State Award winner: 2004: Student Congress, 3rd Place;  2006: Student Congress 3rd Place

Read Testimony

2014 National Champion

Abby Marone’s Career Highlights

  • 2014 NSDA Congressional Debate House National Champion
  • Member of 2014-2015 Team USA World Schools Debate
  • Earned NSDA Degree of Premier Distinction
  • Nine total National Tournament appearances (all in Congressional Debate/Student Congress):
    2012: NCFL, Semifinalist
    2013: Tournament of Champions, Semifinalist; NCFL, Semifinalist; NSDA, Semifinalist
    2013: PHSSL State Champion Student Congress Senate
    2014: Tournament of Champions, 5th place; NCFL, 4th place; NSDA, 1st place
    2015: Tournament of Champions, 5th place;  NSDA, 4th place

Read Testimony

2020-2021 Tournament Schedule

(tournaments marked individual participation are national events that the team does not attend, but students can. Also note that tournament dates and locations may be subject to change. Also, due to COVID, some of these tournaments may end up being virtual/online.)

10/2-4: Yale Tournament – individual participation
10/16-18: New York City Invitational at Bronx Science – individual participation
10/31: Phillipsburg Invitational
11/7: Diocesan joint tournament at TBA*
11/21-22: St. Joseph’s University Villiger Tournament – individual participation
12/4-12/6: George Mason – individual participation
12/4-12/6: Princeton Univ
12/11-12: LaSalle College HS
12/19: We host ADFL*
1/9: ADFL at Hunterdon Central*
1/16: E. L. Meyers HS MLK Open Tournament
1/23: ADFL Virtual*
1/30: Ridge HS
2/5-2/7: Pennsbury HS
2/12-14: U Penn – individual participation
2/20: PHSSL District 8 State Qualifier at TBA*

2/21: NSDA Valley Forge District Congress National Qualifier*

2/28: ADFL National Qualifier at Northampton Community College*
3/6-7: NSDA Valley Forge District Speech/Debate National Qualifier*
3/13-14: PHSSL State Tournament at Bloomsburg University*
TBA: Holy Redeemer HS

4/10: NSDA Valley Forge District Big Questions National Qualifier*
April TBA: Tournament Of Champions at University of Kentucky – speech and debate invitational individual participation
4/24: Southern Lehigh HS

April 30: Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation Video Oratory Contest Deadline (see Mr. Rizzo for details)

4/30-5/1 Inaugural Commonwealth Championships (Virtual or at Pennsbury HS)

TBA: National Individual Events Tournament Of Champions at TBA– speech invitational individual participation
5/28-31: NCFL Grand Nationals in Minneapolis, MN
6/13-18: NSDA Nationals in Des Moines, IA
June 25-26: National Finals Pro-Life Oratory Contest at the National Right to Life Convention in Herndon, VA (DC Area)

ADFL = Allentown Diocesan Forensics League, NCFL = National Catholic Forensic League, NSDA = National Speech & Debate Assn.,

PHSSL = PA High School Speech League, SCFL = Scranton Catholic Forensics League