Speech & Debate


Bronx Science is proud to be home to one of the most dominant high school speech and debate programs in the history of the United States. It is also one of the very largest. In the present season, approximately three hundred students are members of the Speech & Debate Team.

In garnering many honors, the team has a reputation for excellence at the highest levels of competition. However, it is the team's philosophy that the program be open to any interested member. There are no tryouts, and there are no cuts. All are welcome. 

This philosophy builds on a tradition of inclusiveness present in the team from the very beginning. The program was founded in 1969 by Richard B. Sodikow ’55, a member of the English Department. Mr. Sodikow quickly became one of the most celebrated coaches in the history of high school speech and debate, and his coaching accomplishments remain legendary. He was inducted into the Gold Key Society of the Barkley Forum at Emory University, the NYSDCA Hall of Fame, the TOC Hall of Fame, and the National Speech & Debate Association Hall of Fame, among many others.

Speakers and debaters from Bronx Science have won virtually all of the country's most coveted championships, including all four national championships (TOC, NFL, NDCA, and NCFL) and major invitational titles (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Emory, Georgetown, the Glenbrooks, Blake, and Meadows, among many others). The team has won most of these top titles – whether for the first time or for the most recent time – over the past three seasons.

The National Speech & Debate Association has ranked Bronx Science among the top five teams in the United States throughout the current season. 

Last season, Bronx Science qualified twenty students to the National High School Tournament of Champions (TOC), the most elite championship of high school debating. Bronx Science was the only school in the United States represented in all six events: Congressional Debate, Extemporaneous Speaking, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Original Oratory, Policy Debate, and Public Forum Debate. At the TOC award ceremony, Bronx Science won the William Woods Tate, Jr. Team Excellence Award for the second year in a row; this prestigious championship is presented to the school with the best overall performance at the tournament itself. Last season, the team won its first-ever School of Excellence Award at Nationals—the championship of all fifty states sponsored by the National Speech & Debate Association—for overall team performance. The thirteen students who have qualified to Nationals are vying for another school championship.

Bronx Science debaters and speakers have won championships at major tournaments throughout the Northeast, including Lexington, Hendrick Hudson (Bump), Monticello (the Kaiser), Lakeland (Westchester Classic), Newark, Ridge, Scarsdale, and Manchester. As with the national championships and invitational tournaments, Bronx Science won these titles either for the most recent time, or for the first time, over the last three seasons. We are also the reigning New York State Champions for three years in a row. 

Bronx Science is the site of several competitions during each school year, including, first and foremost, the tremendously competitive New York City Invitational, one of the very largest high school-sponsored speech and tournaments in the country. In October 2013, well over one thousand students from over thirty states competed for the “Big Bronx” championship. Each and every member of the Bronx Science Speech & Debate Team takes part in running this colossal event, playing host instead of playing competitor for an entire weekend. They are supported in this effort by additional volunteers, including their parents, team alumni, and coaches. 

The Speech & Debate Team is reliant on an incredible tradition of alumni support, both in terms of financial assistance as well as volunteer efforts. Alumni routinely judge competition on behalf of the team to help defer costs, to give back to the community, and to help provide additional coaching support to the team.

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