Barkley Forum for High Schools

2017 — Atlanta, GA/US

History & Traditions

 1956 - The 62nd Annual BARKLEY FORUM - 2017

The Barkley Forum for High Schools is dedicated to those who have built the current tournament experience. The Barkley Forum for High Schools has several institutions dedicated to honoring excellence in forensics. The  Hall of Champions remembers the winners of past years. The  listing of Member Chairs honors schools with strong forensic programs of today and yesterday. Retired  Key Coaches are recalled and honored. The Forum was in existence long before the birth of any contestant taking part in the 62nd tournament. Thus, the tradition that built the 2017 Barkley Forum for High Schools is an integral part of the future.

The Forum salutes those who guide students in education, citizenship, character, creativity and recognition. The Forum congratulates those moderators who know how to teach students to motivate themselves and direct the necessary work to raise funds, to discipline young minds, to run interference where necessary, and to stimulate educational experience rather than pettiness. The Barkley Forum especially appreciates those coaches who can teach the value of vision beyond the trophy.

Your participation in the 62nd tournament affirms the pride Emory takes in the efforts of the various schools that have built the Forum. Emory recognizes its debt to you. Thus, in a way thanking you and them, the 62nd year will salute success.



Two hundred fifty-nine schools do hold or have held Chairs of Membership in the Barkley Forum for High Schools at Emory University. Click here for a full listing of member schools. The currently active schools, all reflecting quality performance of the past, have automatic reservations at the annual January meetings. Their memberships are valid for a minimum of two years. It is not necessary for the schools holding active Chairs to apply for participation in the current year. However, they should register their students online by the deadline to facilitate the acceptance of the maximum number of non-member schools.  Guaranteed reservations will only be held until December 5th to maximize competitive opportunities for all schools.  After December 5, member schools may apply and will be placed on the wait list; at this point, records need to be entered for each student being submitted for consideration.

A member school may be absent for one year without endangering its standing. The second absence in succession vacates the Chair. Likewise, a member school may render an inferior performance at the Barkley Forum for one year without endangering its standing. Two successive years of substandard performance will question the membership. Guests are optional candidates for membership by two successive years of better-than-average performance or instant success. A number of schools are now under consideration.

Engraved plaques are presented to member schools. Membership recognizes high quality forensics performance resulting from commitments from the schools. Boca Raton Community High School (FL), Brentwood High School (TN), East Chapel Hill High School (NC), G. Holmes Braddock High School (FL), and Miami Beach Senior High School (FL) are the 2016 member schools.



The most prestigious presentation made by the Emory Barkley Forum is the presentation of the GOLD KEY. A select number of Directors of Forensics will be added in 2017 to this exemplary list of previous recipients. The recognition of those so named will take place at the Opening Awards Assembly on Friday, January 27th to which all participants, coaches, and judges are invited.

The complete listing of the notable coaches and honorary designees can be found here.  Invitation to the KEY Society is a lifetime designation as long as the KEY coach comports himself or herself with dignity and the high standards to which role models in the debate community are held. 

In 2016, Lane Bearden (Calhoun), Kara Grant (in honorarium), Alfred “Tuna” Snider (in honorarium, in memoriam), and Christina Tallungan (Notre Dame) were tapped into membership in the KEY society.



In March of 1995, the Barkley Forum created an annual award for the promotion of diverse participation in interscholastic speech and debate competition.  We seek to advance the vision of promoting the recruitment and retention of traditionally underrepresented populations of both students and teachers. This effort has led to a true partnership between high school and college communities to develop curriculum, support teachers, educate administrators, and provide powerful opportunities for experiential education for socio-economically challenged students. In no individual is that partnership better expressed than in the leadership of the late Paul Slappey, Coordinator of Debate at the University of Iowa, the first recipient of this award.

A former high school forensics coach, Paul was reared in rural Georgia where he encountered poverty and the educational disparity that characterized rural school systems.  He came to the University of Iowa with an understanding of the barriers faced by many students who could profit from participation in forensics.  He developed high quality educational programs, workshops, and institutes for high school students and teachers at Iowa, recruiting the services of some of the best high school and college faculty in speech communications in the United States.  Few realize the tireless efforts he dedicated to raising money and providing opportunities for those who faced seemingly insurmountable barriers to participation, for whom financial support was not, in the words of one Urban Debate League/National Forensic League Phillips Scholar, “an easy way out, but the only way in....”

The Barkley Forum hopes that in creating this award, we can recognize the efforts of those who have developed an educational mission to enfranchise all students in the rich experience of communications.  The 2016 recipient was Shúnta Jordan from Pace Academy.  Past recipients of this award include Dr. Larry Moss, Brent Farrand, Elizabeth Slagle, Angelo Brooks, and Dr. Alfred “Tuna” Snider.



The SILVER KEY - In commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Barkley Forum in 1980, the Grand Championship was denoted by the SILVER KEY, a small sterling silver emblem duplicating the design of the prestigious Gold KEY awarded only to the KEY Coaches. The SILVER KEY indicates a Barkley Forum Champion and may be worn only by the first-place individual debaters in the Pelham Debates, Lincoln-Douglas, and Public Forum and the first-place winners in the Pelham Debates, Lincoln-Douglas, Extemporaneous Speaking, Original Oratory, Dramatic Interpretation, Duo Interpretation, Prose & Poetry, Humorous Interpretation, Public Forum and Congressional Debate. The KEY has no written marking visible to the public and is a piece of fine jewelry suitable for any occasion. While trophies will be granted as usual for the appropriate victories, the SILVER KEY belongs to the Barkley Forum victors of the future.

The Trophy KEY - Uniquely, the Barkley Forum trophy is a larger KEY cast from an antique brass KEY hidden in Georgia from Sherman's March to the Sea in 1864. This original KEY was discovered and donated to the Emory Barkley Forum by Susan and Thomas Glenn Pelham. Nashville attorney Larry David Woods, a distinguished alumnus of Emory and former President of the Forum as well as National President of the Delta Sigma Rho-Tau Kappa Alpha debate fraternity, gave a grant to have KEYS cast each year from the original.