Congressional Debate / Model Congress
Learn to speak and argue at Harvard University
About the Workshop
Congressional Debate models the lawmaking process in a democratic society. Our unique workshop exposes students to key skills and attitudes needed in both competitive Congressional Debate/Student Congress, as well as Model Congress.
Our focus is fostering students’ sustained growth and improvement, not just preparing for the next competition. This happens in an innovative, fun, and safe atmosphere that encourages students to reach beyond their potential. Respected and experienced classroom teachers employ layer-in skills methodically to ensure mastery, complemented by reflective learning, and personal goal setting. This is augmented with extensive use of technology, including video capture of practice speeches, as well as individualized attention and personal development. We convey knowledge, build skills, and foster a disposition that emphasizes leadership over mere competitiveness.
Session One: June 25 through July 7
Session Two: July 9 through July 21
We empower students to become critical thinkers, collaborative decision-makers, and ethical leaders while cultivating a unique style to set them apart from other debaters.
Sample Daily Schedule
Morning: Lecture: Congressional Economics
Late Morning: Prep Time: Legislation, Authorship Speeches
After Lunch: Workshop: Questioning and Answering
Mid-Afternoon: Seminar: Squad Management, Recruitment and Retention
Late Afternoon: Workshop: Parli. Procedure/Presiding
After Dinner: Prep Time & Speeches
5 Key Skills Students Will Learn
1. Synthesize knowledge of current events through drafting compelling legislation
2. Explore of theoretical frameworks upon which arguments are based
3. Construct and deliver dynamic, engaging arguments and refutations
4. Master parliamentary procedure and skill in presiding
5. Demonstrate competitive ethics and squad leadership
Our alumni have won and placed at national invitational tournaments, won NCFL Nationals, earned the esteemed NSDA/NFL Final Session Leadership Award. More important, our philosophy of emphasizing leadership training has prepared our students to lead their squads, and become successful in college beyond high school speech and debate.
“I loved the intensiveness of it. I was thrilled to find that this wouldn’t be a walk in the park, and that it was intellectually stimulating.”
“It was well worth the money for the opportunity to meet some of the best at congressional debate.”
“I honestly learned more about Congress and related topics in 10 days than I have in months at my school. It is a very entertaining and informative camp and I would definitely come back.”
“I love how the experience was personalized. For example, my main problem in Congress was my lack of extemporaneous speaking, eye contact, and refutation – basically, I was accustomed to reciting mostly prepared speeches. Within a few days, we were doing so many speeches that I was both encouraged and forced to change.”
“I will be a captain next year, and the specific sessions to help me lead my team will be so valuable. I also love the ethical philosophy the instructors urge!”
“I loved getting critiqued so often.”
“I liked the intenseness of the workshop, balanced with the liberty to visit Harvard Square for dinner.”
“Faculty were attentive to my needs, and genuine in criticism. I now know what to do if I want to take my debate to a whole new level.”
“I’ve been to a few workshops, and this, by far, was the best. The faculty were more professional and experienced, and the focus on skill development was amazing.”
“Though the format for Congressional Debate is different from Connecticut Extemporaneous Debate, the faculty really helped me develop my debating skills so I can succeed in Connecticut!”
High School/College Debate Experience: Participated in speech, debate, and Model UN in high school; moot court in college
Alexandra Sencer has been primary instructor for Congress, Speech and Interpretation at Cary Academy (NC). The Founding Director of Forensics at Lake Mary Preparatory School (FL), she also served as Director of Speech and Congress at Lake Highland Preparatory School (FL) and Director of Forensics at Boca Raton High School, and has been involved in the world of speech as a competitor, judge, coach, tournament official, and league leader. She currently serves the Congress community as in a number of Congressional Debate tab rooms, including Harvard’s High School Invitational, Yale’s High School Invitational, George Mason’s Patriot Games Classic, Penn’s Liberty Bell Classic, National Catholic Forensic League’s Grand National Tournament as well as the Tournament of Champions. Her commitment to the activity led to her inclusion on the TOC Congressional Debate Committee in 2014. When it comes to competitive success, her students have reached late elimination rounds at NSDA Nationals, NCFL Nationals, Yale, Harvard, GMU, Bronx and Laird Lewis as well as claiming championships at the Glenbrooks and Penn. However, she is most proud of the growth students in the community can experience when we come together at workshops, between tournament rounds, and at camp.
School Affiliation: Spring Woods High School in Houston, Texas
Title: Director of Forensics
Number of Years at School: 12
High School/College Debate Experience: competed 2 years in high school; 4 years in college
Teaching/Coaching Experience: 34 years teaching, 18 years coaching
Other Relevant Info: Ms. Beard has a Bachelor’s in Speech and Theatre and a Master’s in Theatre. She was selected as Educator of the Year for the Texas Speech and Communication Association (2013) and teaches courses annually at the TSCA conference. She was also selected as Spring Woods’ Teacher of The Year (2013) and as Spring Branch ISD Teacher of the Year finalist (2013). Ms. Beard has coached state champions (Texas Forensic Association and The University Interscholastic League), and national champions (The Tournament of Champions), and national finalists (National Speech and Debate Association). This is her 12th year as the UIL Academic Coordinator for Spring Woods High School and serves on the NSDA Committee for the Space City Chapter.
Years Previously Taught at other workshops: For the past 9 years, organized and taught a speech and debate summer camp for Spring Branch ISD high schools in Houston.
School Affiliation: Success Academy High School, New York
Title:Director of Speech and Debate
Number of Years at School: 3 (since school opened)
High School/College Debate Experience:
Plano Senior-Finalist Extemp (TFA/UIL), RD 14 NFL PFD 2005
Indiana Univ. and Univ. of TX-Speech Teams
Teaching/Coaching Experience: 10 Years
Previously taught: 1 Year at Southlake Carroll (TX), Spring HS (TX), KUGNUS ACTS – Hagwan for Korean students
Other Relevant Info: Earn NSDA Diamond (2017); will be starting Teachers College at Columbia University this fall for a Masters in Education Policy
School Affiliation: El Camino Real Charter HS (CA)
College: I will be studying Political Science at American University in Washington, DC in the Fall.
Title:Captain of Speech and Debate Team
Number of Years at School: 4
High School Debate Experience: Champion, Stanford (’17); 14th, Harvard (’17); Champion, Cal State, Long Beach (’16); Champion, Cal State, Fullerton (’16); Semifinals, NCFL Nationals (’16); 10th California State Tournament (’16); also competed extensively in Extemporaneous Speaking, Impromptu Speaking, Oratorical Interpretation, and Parliamentary Debate.
Coaching Experience: 3 years, assistant instructor, El Camino Real Charter HS.
Other Relevant Info: Sarem has been primary coach for his mostly student-run and funded team. His team has achieved success under his guidance, qualifying to NSDA Nationals, NCFL Nationals, TOC, the CHSSA California State Tournament, as well as many members advancing to out-rounds at tournaments such as Harvard and Stanford.
College: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Philosophy major)
HDC Alum: Congressional Debate workshop (2014, 2015), Public Speaking & Argumentation (2014)
Debate Experience: William Fremd High School – 4 years of Congressional Debate and 2 years in Lincoln-Douglas Debate. IHSA State Congressional Debate Semifinalist (2015), and Glenbrooks National Debate Tournament Semifinalist (2014). Co-captain (2015, 2016), and executive board chair (2016).
Other Relevant Info: At the IHSA State Debate tournament in 2015, placed 6th in semifinal chamber.