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 9. Parents are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Coach Sal Rizzo

I have been involved with the Notre Dame Speech and Debate program (fka Forensics) for 40 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 24 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 have served 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.

Congratulations to Gwendolyn Guo who won third place in Varsity Original Oratory at the Joint Diocesan Tournament at Berks Catholic HS. Gwendolyn has qualified for the National Qualifier at Northampton Community College on February 29, 2020. Also representing Notre Dame were Joseph Karam in Novice Student Congress and Jiwon Lee in Novice Original Oratory. Well done!

Student Officers

Nathalia Ulsh, President
Gwendolyn Guo, Vice-President

Parent Board

Mrs. Maribel Ulsh

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

2019-2020 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)

9/13-15: Yale Tournament – individual participation
10/11-13: New York City Invitational at Bronx Science – individual participation
10/25: Phillipsburg Invitational
11/2: ADFL/SCFL joint tournament at Berks Catholic
11/23-24: St. Joseph’s University Villiger Tournament  – individual participation
12/6-12/8: George Mason – individual participation
12/6-12/8: Princeton Univ
12/14: LaSalle College HS
12/21: ADFL at TBA
1/4: ADFL at Hunterdon Central HS
1/11: Shikellamy HS
1/18: E. L. Meyers HS MLK Open Tournament
1/25: Ridge HS
1/31-2/1: Pennsbury HS
2/8: ADFL at TBA
2/8-9: U Penn  – individual participation
2/22: PHSSL District 8 State Qualifier at TBA
2/29: ADFL National Qualifier at Northampton Community College
3/7-8: NSDA Valley Forge District National Qualifier at TBA
3/13-14: PHSSL State Tournament at Bloomsburg University
4/4: Holy Redeemer HS
4/10: Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation Video Oratory Contest Deadline (see Mr. Rizzo for details)
4/18-20: Tournament Of Champions at University of Kentucky – speech and debate invitational individual participation
4/25: Southern Lehigh HS
TBA: National Individual Events Tournament Of Champions at TBA– speech invitational individual participation
5/22-25: NCFL Grand Nationals in Chicago, IL
6/14-19: NSDA Nationals in Albuquerque, NM
June 26-27: 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