About ND Speech & Debate

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.

Our first meeting will be Tuesday night September 13 at 6:30pm in Room 101. There will be a Parents/Guardians meeting in Room 102. We ask at least one parent/guardian to attend. Contact Mr. Rizzo for Details.

Coach & Staff:

  • Mr. Sal Rizzo, Head Coach
  • Mr. Stuart Kramer, Assistant Debate Coach

About Coach Sal Rizzo

I have been involved with the Notre Dame Speech and Debate program (fka Forensics) for 43 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 27 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 two appearances 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.

Judges Training Video:
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.

Mark your calendars! National Speech and Debate Education Day is March 4, 2022.

10/29 Wilkes University: Oral Interpretation: 2nd place: Latoya Philantrope, 3rd place: Lidia Valdueza Fuentes

11/5 ADFL/SCFL at Southern Lehigh HS: Novice Oral Interpretation: 1st place: Kelly Lee

12/17 ADFL at Notre Dame: Oral Interpretation: 2nd place: Emily Olsen, 3rd place: Jina Kim

1/7 ADFL at Hunterdon Central: Kelly Lee earned a bid to the National Qualifier in Oral Interpretation.

Degree winners:

Degree of Merit: Kelly Lee, Latoya Philantrope

Student Officers


Parent Board

Mrs. Mary Bowman, Interim Chairperson

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)
  • 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

Award Winners

NSDA Wall of Distinction
State and National Award Winners

2014 NSDA Awards Ceremony: House


2014 NSDA Awards Ceremony: Debate Schools of Honor

2023-2024 Tournament Schedule

 (tournaments in red are national events that the team does not attend, but students can. Also note that tournament dates and locations may be subject to change.)

TBA Phillipsburg Invitational

TBA Wilkes University

11/4 ADFL TBA*

11/17-11/19 Villiger Tournament at St. Joseph’s University

12/2-12/4: George Mason – individual participation

12/9: LaSalle College HS

12/16: ADFL TBA*

1/6: ADFL at Hunterdon Central HS*

1/20: Blue, Maroon, and White NIETOC Qualifier at Shikellamy HS

1/27: Ridge HS

2/2-2/3: Pennsbury HS (debate can go to 2/4)

2/11: ADFL TBA*

2/24: PHSSL District 8 State Qualifier at TBA*

3/2: ADFL National Qualifier at Northampton Community College Fowler Center*

3/15-16: PHSSL State Tournament at Bloomsburg University*

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

April TBA: Tournament Of Champions at University of Kentucky – speech and debate invitational individual participation

4/27: Southern Lehigh HS

TBA: National Individual Events Tournament Of Champions at TBA– speech invitational individual participation

5/24-27: NCFL Grand Nationals in Chicago

TBA: National Finals Pro-Life Oratory Contest at the National Right to Life Convention in TBA.

*denotes league tournament

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

Want to read more about Speech and Debate? Check out Rostrum Magazine from the National Speech and Debate Association.