The Kentucky High School Speech League has a new website! Click here to visit.  It’s at our old URL, This WordPress site will no longer be updated.

In addition to the weekly email all KHSSL coaches (and leaders of allied organizations) receive, KHSSL is now posting weekly updates to its new Facebook page (usually on Wednesdays) as well as breaking news to Twitter. Please click on the links in this paragraph to follow us on both — Like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @khssl.

100th birthday cake

2020 KHSSL Regional Tournaments:  February 1 and 8, depending on the Region

2020 KHSSL Junior Speech State Tournament: February 28-29 at University of Kentucky

2020 KHSSL Debate State Tournament:  March 11-12 at University of Louisville

2020 KHSSL Senior Speech State Tournament: March 13-14 at University of Louisville

Come celebrate our 100th year  with us!       #khssl100

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Kentucky High Schools Win Big at NSDA

The Kentucky District had one of its best showings overall in recent memory this past week in Dallas at the 87th Annual National Speech and Debate Tournament, sponsored by the National Speech and Debate Association.  Over six thousand entries from 1357 high schools around the world, the winners at 106 District Tournaments held from Maine to Guam, competed in eight speech and eight debate events through a week of rounds held in downtown Dallas. Additionally, students eliminated from their qualifying Main events before Thursday had opportunities to compete in seven Supplemental events. All tournament winners advancing past the preliminary rounds in Main events or the Quarterfinal rounds in Supplemental events were awarded with a culminating awards ceremony held Friday night.

Supernatural and Gilmore Girls star Jared Padalecki, a 1998 NSDA Champion in Duo Interpretation, made a guest appearance at the Duo Interpretation finals and served as a guest judge. Additionally, the Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Dr. Thomas Freeman wowed the assembled students and coaches, with a moving and inspiring call to communications arms — no less than expected for someone who taught both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barbara Jordan — and at age 99, no less.

Danville High School was awarded a School of Excellence trophy for placing in the top 20 overall in Speech events, its second (prior in 2007). Additionally, Danville’s coach, Steve Meadows, became the second Kentuckian (with J. W. Patterson of UK Debate) inducted into the NSDA Hall of Fame at a ceremony on Sunday night.

Fourteen of Kentucky’s twenty-four entries into the tournament advanced past preliminary rounds in Main Events. Congratulations to Johnathan Hurley (Lafayette), Semifinals in the Senate; Joseth Warner (Danville), Quarterfinals in Dramatic Interpretation; the team of Perryman and Whittaker (Rowan County), Quarterfinals in Duo Interpretation; Cole Knight (Henry Clay), ninth round in Lincoln-Douglas Debate; Emma Merryman (Danville), Quarterfinals in Oratory; Claire Strysick (Danville), Quarterfinals in Oratory; Carli Hall (Bardstown), Quarterfinals in Program Oral Interpretation; Stefani Giles (LaRue County), Octofinals in Dramatic Interpretation; Emily Fannin (Knott County Central), Octofinals in Humorous Interpretation; Natalie Grubbs (Danville), Octofinals in Informative Speaking; the team of Cao and Raj (duPont Manual), seventh round in Public Forum Debate; the team of Smith and Sun (Dunbar), seventh round in Public Forum Debate; Jack Neel (Bethlehem), Octofinals in Program Oral Interpretation.

Students eliminated before Thursday had opportunities to enter Supplemental events, and four Kentuckians earned honors in these events with two in the National finals. Congratulations to Stefani Giles (LaRue County), third in Poetry; Jack Neel (Bethlehem), fourth in Prose; Emma Merryman (Danville), Semifinals in Impromptu Speaking; and Natalie Grubbs (Danville), Semifinals in Prose.

2020 Nationals will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 14-19.


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Kentucky Middle Schools Honored in Dallas

Kentucky sent three middle schools to Dallas to participate in the National Speech and Debate Association’s Junior National Championships last week, and three middle schools came home with prizes!

Congratulations to —

Harrison County Middle:

  • Hadlie Crump — Quarterfinals, Storytelling

Hindman Elementary:

  • Presley Moore — Semifinals, Declamation
  • Cameron Combs and Tyson Smith — Quarterfinals, Duo Interpretation
  • Sawyer Noe — Semifinals, Impromptu

Rowan County Middle:

  • Jacob Holbrook — Semifinals, Humrous Interpretation
  • Jacob Holbrook — Quarterfinals, Poetry


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Kentucky keeps shining in Texas


After two days of prelim rounds and  the first elimination rounds in speech and debate and the first cuts in Comgress , Team Kentucky has seven entries still in the competitions after the Tuesday rounds at the NSDA National Speech and Debate Tournament!

Competing in quarterfinals of Speech Wednesday):

Dramatic Interp:  JosethWarner/Danville

Duo Interp: Perryman&Whittaker/Rowan Co.

Oratory:  Emma Merryman, Danville Claire Strysick, Danville

Program Oral Interpretation:   Carli Hall/Bardstown

Competing in Round 9 of LD Debate : Cole Knight/Henry Clay!

Competing in Senate Semifinals: Johnathan Hurley/Lafayette!

Go Team Kentucky!!

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Congratulations to the following students from Team Kentucky who have advanced into the awards rounds at the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) National Speech and Debate Tournament in Dallas!

Duo Interp
Perryman/Whittaker – Rowan Co.

Emma Merryman- Danville
Claire Strysick – Danville

Program Oral Interp
Carli Hall – Bardstown
Jack Neel – Bethlehem

Dramatic Interp
Joseth Warner – Danville
Stefani Giles – LaRue Co.

Natalie Grubbs – Danville

Humorous Interp
Emily Fannin – Knott Central

Lincoln Douglas
Cole Knight – Henry Clay

Public Forum Debate
Raj and Cao – duPont Manual
Sun and Smith – Dunbar

These students are currently competing in the 7th and 8th rounds (Octofinals for speech events). Quarterfinalists plus Congress breaks are announced later tonight! Go Team Kentucky!!

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June KHSSL Update

The Kentucky High School Speech League’s website has been updated with the following information:

  • a new tournament calendar draft (6/11) for 2019-2020
  • a Summary of Discussion (unapproved Board Minutes) for the June 1 meeting

Stay tuned next week for updates from the National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament. Best of luck to our Kentucky schools with students representing the Kentucky District in Dallas:

  • Bardstown High School
  • Bethlehem High School
  • Bowling Green High School
  • Danville High School
  • duPont Manual High School
  • Knott County Central High School
  • Henry Clay High School
  • Lafayette High School
  • LaRue County High School
  • Paul Laurence Dunbar High School
  • Rowan County High School
  • Trinity High School

Break a leg too to these Kentucky schools competing in the Junior Nationals in Dallas later next week:

  • Harrison County Middle School
  • Hindman Elementary School
  • Rowan County Middle School

We’ll be cheering for our Bluegrass buddies. Go Team Kentucky!!!

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SPEAK VII: the Forensics Awakens on 9/14

SPEAK VII: The Forensics Awakens will be September 14 at UK. The keynote speaker for this workshop for speech and debate teachers will be Meg Howell of Arizona (Interpretation Queen, NSDA Hall of Fame), who will also teach a workshop! Spread the word! Check out the SPEAK homepage for more information about this workshop sponsored by the five Kentucky debate and speech organizations!

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Another round of Milwaukee excellence!

We missed two LD Debaters in our parade of excellence at CFL Nats!  Bravo to Ryle’s Abbey  Birch (triple octos) and Dunbar’s Sadie Bograd (double octos) for talking their way into the awards rounds!

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Kentucky brews excellence in Milwaukee

Special congratulations to our state for outstanding performances at the NCFL Grand National Speech and Debate Tournament this past weekend in Milwaukee — an event in its 67th year with over 2000 entries who qualified from 66 local leagues and 524 high schools!  Kentucky’s delegation (via the Louisville Diocese) had an amazing showing with 16 breaks into awards rounds from approximately 240 entries in each event in prelims!
Kudos to these amazing competitors and their coaches:
SEMIFINALISTS (top 12 in Speech, top 48 in Congress):
Joseth Warner, Danville High School — Dramatic Performance
Hacker/Payton, Henry Clay High School — Duo Interpretation
Christian Butterfield, Bowling Green High School — Student Congress
QUARTERFINALISTS (top 24 in Speech):
Natalie Grubbs, Danville High School — Dramatic Performance
Riggs/Riggs, Bethlehem High School — Duo Interpretation
Marina Smart, Murray High School — Extemporaneous Speaking
Mark Ge, North Oldham High School — Extemporaneous Speaking
Jillian Donelson, North Oldham High School — Oral Interpretation
OCTOFINALISTS (top 48 in Speech):
Lauren Lucas, Danville High School — Declamation
Justin Witt, Hazard High School — Declamation
Maggie Qin, Rowan County High School — Declamation
Donson/Liu, Dunbar High School — Duo Interpretation
Carli Hall, Bardstown High School — Oral Interpretation
Jack Neel, Bethlehem High School — Oral Intepretation
Claire Strysick, Danville High School — Oratory
Parker Smith, Dunbar High School — Oratory
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KHSSL Board Meeting 6/1/2019

The KHSSL Board will meet June 1, 2019, at 9 AM at Murray High School. The Board’s agenda is published at this link.


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