El Cerrito Berman Speech and Parliamentary Debate Invitational

2024 — El Cerrito, CA/US

Greetings to All,

El Cerrito High School Speech and Debate, and public speaking non-profit The Practice Space, welcome you to attend our Berman Speech & Debate Invitational, a one-day tournament to encourage equitable participation in public speaking activities. The tournament will feature traditional 7-10 minute long California speech events, in addition to shorter 3-5 minute unconventional events in poetry, improv, and news, and parliamentary debate. This tournament is open to middle and high school students.

The tournament will be held on Sunday, March 17, 2024, in person at El Cerrito High School.

Cathy and Sandy Berman were beloved long-time founding coaches here at El Cerrito, who were both devoted to promoting diversity and inclusion in the speech and debate community. We dedicate this tournament to them to continue their legacy of helping every student use their voice.

Note: We will be giving out more traditional (but still sustainable) awards this year for all winners.

Speech Events

Conventional Events (5-10 minutes long)

  • Dramatic Interpretation (DI): a 10-min dramatic performance of a published piece.

  • Humorous Interpretation (HI): a 10-min humorous performance of a published piece.

  • Oratorical Interpretation (OI): a 10-min performance of a speech by a famous speaker.

  • Duo Interpretation (DUO): a 10-min performance of a published piece with a partner.

  • Informative Speaking (INFO): a 10-min original speech to inform about a topic.

  • Original Oratory (OO): a 10-min original persuasive speech by the student, drawing attention to a societal issue or problem.

  • Original Prose/Poetry (OPP): a 10-min original creative speech by the student, usually in the form of an original play, monologue, short story, collection of poems.

  • Programmed Oral Interpretation (POI): a 10-min collection of 2 to 4 different sources, tied together with a theme.

  • Impromptu Speaking (IMP): a 5-minute original speech by the student, prepared in only 2 minutes from a choice of 3 prompts.

  • Extemporaneous Speaking (EXTEMP): a 7-minute original speech answering a question about domestic and international events, prepared in 30 minutes from a choice of 3 prompts.

Unconventional Events

  • Dual Improv with Props (DIP): a 2-min two-person, true or fictional story or scene inspired by two objects pulled from a bag, prepared with only 2 minutes of preparation time.

  • Poetry Slam (PS): up to 2-min performance of an original, prepared poem.

  • Breaking News (BN): a 2-min original speech by the student as a newscaster of a fictional breaking news story, prepared in 2 minutes based on 1 prompt.

  • Fictional Storytelling (FS): a 2-min single-person fictional story based on a prompt, prepared with only 2 minutes of preparation time.
  • Discurso de Abogacía (DDA):This event is in Spanish. A 3-minute original speech telling the story about a problem in the world and persuading the audience to make a change. The prompt for this event is: "What do you want to change about the world and why?"

Debate Events

SPAR Debate (SPAR): One-on-one mini-debates. Students will be in rooms of 4 students and the first pair will debate a topic and the second pair will debate a different topic. There are no winners, but all four students will be ranked in order by the judge based on their speaking ability. Topics are general knowledge and sometimes silly or philosophical in nature. Timing is:

5 minutes of Preparation

2 minute Affirmative (Pro) Opening Speech

1 minute Cross-Examination Questioning (by opponent or anyone in audience)

2 minute Negative (Con) Opening Speech

1 minute Cross-Examination Questioning (by opponent or anyone in audience)

1 minute Affirmative (Pro) Closing Speech

1 minute Negative (Con) Closing Speech

Parliamentary Debate (PARLI): Two-on-two parliamentary-style debate.

Internet and partner prep. Except as otherwise noted, we will follow NPDL Round Rules.


We plan to offer novice and varsity divisions in all events, but reserve the right to collapse divisions based on entries. Novice is defined as the first year of competition.

Double and Triple Entry, and Beyond

In general, competitors may enter as many events as they like, as long as they are responsible for being in the right place at the right time. However, if you are entered in Parliamentary Debate, you may not double-enter, due to scheduling constraints.


One speech judge covers 7 entries (SPAR is included in speech).

One parliamentary debate judge covers 2 teams, rounded unfavorably (e.g. 3 teams need 2 judges).

Finals and Awards Ceremony

SPAR and Speech Events will have 3 preliminary rounds of competition with a final round; Parliamentary Debate will have 4 preliminary rounds. Awards will also be presented in the cafeteria.


$20 school fee. Parli entries are $30 each. Speech entries are $15 each ($25 for 2-person events). Please make all adds and drops by Friday, March 8 at 10pm. You will still be able to make changes and drops on-line after that (by March 13th), but drops will be non-refundable. Talk to us if the above fees are an obstacle to attending for you. Fee waivers are available based on need.

Checks made out to Friends of El Cerrito Forensics or FOECF should be mailed to Lisa Saridis, 401 Seaview Drive, El Cerrito, CA 94530. Paypal accepted. Make payment to ecforensics@gmail.com


A “pattern” is a shorthand way to list the different events in the schedule. Make sure to take note of which pattern students are competing in.

Pattern A: SPAR

Pattern B: DIP, BN, and PS

Pattern C: DI, HI, OI, DUO, OO, OPP, INFO, POI, Imp, Extemp, Parliamentary Debate

Tentative Schedule - Subject to Change

Note that schedules may be adjusted. Please reference the live doc linked during the tournament for the most accurate schedule.

7:45am: Registration and Check-In

8:20am: Judge training in the Library


Pattern A (Rounds 1, 2, and 3)

  • Round 1 starts at 9:00am

  • Round 2 starts at 9:40am (or sooner)

  • Round 3 starts at 10:20am (or sooner)

Pattern C

  • Round 1 starts at 9:00am (Parli and Extemp prep start at 8:40am)

11:00am-12:00pm: Lunch and SPAR Awards (Pattern A)


Pattern B (Rounds 1, 2, and 3)

  • Round 1 starts at 12:00pm

  • Round 2 starts at 12:45pm (or sooner)

  • Round 3 starts at 1:30pm (or sooner)

Pattern C (Rounds 2 and 3)

  • Round 2 starts at 12:00pm (Parli and Extemp prep start at 11:40am)

  • Round 3 starts at 1:30pm (Parli and Extemp prep start at 1:10am)


  • Speech Finals (Patterns B and C)

  • Round 4 of Parliamentary Debate (prep starts 3:10pm)

4:30pm: Awards for Parliamentary Debate and Speech (Patterns B and C)

We look forward to seeing you on March 17th, 2024!

AnnMarie Baines, Tournament Director

El Cerrito Speech and Debate

The Practice Space