What is the mission of Fortitude?

We are a group of parents each working on discipling our own children. Speech and debate is just one tool that we use to aid in that discipleship process. Through participation in speech and debate, we want our children to grow in these three areas: (1) faith, (2) character, and (3) forensic skills. Most important is growth in faith. Second, growth in character. And last, growth in forensic skills.

What are the forensic events?

Platform Speeches

Platform speeches are informative, self-written, and memorized verbatim. These include Original Oratory, Persuasive, Expository, and for the 2021-2022 school year, Oratory Analysis. Original Oratory speeches are informational, Persuasive present information and advocate for a course of action, Expositories use visual aids to both show and tell informational topics, and Oratory Analysis analyzes a historically significant speech.

Interpretive Speeches

Interpretive speeches are story-based speeches where a competitor takes a piece of literature, a play, a short-story, or even writes their own story and brings it to life. They act out all the people in the story. These can be funny or dramatic and include Open Interpretation, Humorous Interpretation, Open Interpretation, and Duo Interpretation (two competitors telling/acting the story together). These speeches are also memorized verbatim.

Limited Preparation Speeches

Limited Prep speeches are a type of impromptu speech and are therefore not memorized. Limited preparation refers to the short period of time wherein a student has a limited number of minutes to collect their thoughts ahead of a “round” during a tournament. The topics for Apologetics and Mars Hill Impromptu speeches are released by the league (Stoa) prior to the outset of each competition year, and while students do not prepare a scripted speech response for these events, they can (and should!) research and prepare for the topics ahead of time and bring a 4x6 card with notes to aid them as they speak. Apologetics topics give students an opportunity to grow in their understanding of facets of their Christian faith, and learn to explain them to others in a winsome and compassionate way. Mars Hill speeches takes the sharing one’s faith to a new level by asking students to take a piece of artistic cultural significance (movies, books, plays, art, etc.) and use it to bridge the gap and share Christ with a nonbeliever, in the model that the apostle Paul did in Acts 17. Extemporaneous speeches are geared to current events in the world news cycle and vary in that students receive their question and have 30 minutes to craft a speech before presenting it.

Team Policy Debate

Team Policy Debate features two competitors going up against another two competitors debating a policy resolution. The resolution for the 2021-2022 competition year is:

Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reform the use of Artificial Intelligence technology.

Students prepare cases for both sides of the resolution as they will be debating both sides. Evidence is highly valued in policy debate.

Lincoln Douglas Value Debate

Lincoln Douglas Value Debate features one competitor going up against another competitor debating a value based resolution. The resolution for the 2021-2022 competition year is:

Resolved: In the field of biomedical engineering, restraint ought to be prioritized over scientific advancement.

Students prepare cases for both sides of the resolution as they will be debating both sides. Logic and reasoning is valued highly alongside evidence. LD debate is recommended for ages 14+ but can be introduced earlier by request.

Parliamentary Debate

Parliamentary Debate (known more commonly as “Parli”) features two competitors going up against another two competitors in a limited preparation style format. Students receive the resolution 20 minutes ahead of the speaking time. The resolutions can be policy, value, or fact based. Parli is recommended for 16+ but can be introduced earlier upon request.

Who is eligible to participate?

Competitors shall be ages 12 through 18 on October 1 of the current season.

All families need to read and agree with the Fortitude Statement of Faith.

Our league is exclusively for independently home schooled students. Students participating in club time and tournaments cannot be enrolled in a charter school or public school. Here are the full eligibility rules.

In addition, all families need to be members of our league, Stoa. You can register here.

What are the costs to participate?

There are several costs to consider:

  1. Club fees. $100/family per year. This is to cover the cost of insurance, materials, and other club overhead.

  2. Stoa Registration cost. Click here for information on the cost to join Stoa.

  3. Tournament costs. One of the mechanisms used to train students in speech in debate is participation in tournaments, many of which are out of town. Each local tournament has some nominal entry fees, but the larger costs are those associated with travel to these tournaments. Many tournaments offer "host housing" to help with lodging costs, but this is not guaranteed.

  4. Tournament attire. Tournaments require professional attire for competitors.

  5. Private coaching/camps (optional). Many students wish to attend speech/debate camps or pay for private coaching. The costs for these can vary widely.

What are the expectations for families?

  1. Active Parent Participation. Our club is a collaborative partnership of parents working together to disciple our children. We do not approach the coaching of speech and debate as “done by the professionals,” but see our co-labor together as iron sharpening iron. For this reason, each family needs to provide at least one parent each week to be actively involved in giving constructive feedback and guidance. Parents who cannot come on a given week may send a grandparent or other adult to fill-in their otherwise needed spot, but our club is not a drop-off event.

  2. Weekly Attendance and Work at Home. It is our goal that students and parents attend each week unless they otherwise give notice. Students should not sign-up for coaching sessions unless a parent is present to help coach that week. Since our weekly club time is used for students to present their work and receive feedback, students should come to club ready to focus on improving speech and debate skills. This means preparing speeches and debate cases at home, and coming ready to polish skills at club.

  3. Participation in Tournaments. Because the primary vehicle we have to motivate students is the competition of tournaments, we expect each student to compete in a minimum of two tournaments during the season.

  4. Serving at Our Local Tournament. Putting on a local tournament takes a small army and it blesses not only our students but the greater Stoa (our league) community. For this reason, we require "all hands on deck" from our club families when we host a local tournament. We do take interests, gifting, and time constraints into consideration for finding the best place for parents to serve during a tournament.

  5. Agreement with Statement of Faith and Registration with the Stoa League. All club families need to signify their agreement with our Fortitude Statement of Faith upon registration and all families need to separately register for the Stoa league.

How is club meeting time structured?

We meet every Tuesday during the school year (with a few breaks for holidays, etc.) at Trinity Community Church, from 4:00 - 8:30 p.m.

4:00-4:45 - Apologetics Bible Study. All competitors and parents are invited and encouraged to attend, regardless of whether they are participating in the Apologetics event or not.

4:45-5:15 - Dinner (bring your own), announcements and fellowship.

5:15-6:15 - Rookie Class. This is required for all first-year students and families. Juniors (aged 9-11) may participate as well. Following this one-hour session, first-year students feed into the regular coaching schedule.

5:15-8:30 - Speech Coaching Sessions. Parents post their availability to a shared spreadsheet and students sign up for a coaching session. These are approximately 30 minutes in length. Preference in the schedule is given to those who have a more complicated schedule due to debate. (The spreadsheet link will be given to registered families.)

6:00-7:00 - Extemp/Parli (alternating weeks)

7:00-8:30 - TP coaching and rounds

7:30-8:30 - LD coaching and rounds


Parents and students do not need to stay for the entire 4.5 hours if they can accomplish their goals and serve others in a shorter period of time.

Younger siblings are permitted to attend alongside their parents, but no childcare is provided and children should not be left unattended.

If students are between coaching sessions, they should be listening and giving constructive feedback to others in the coaching sessions.