Prior to the Governor’s call for greater cooperation between the University and K-12 programs, the ACBDF already established cooperative programs with the state of Iowa’s and nation’s high schools ensuring a positive University presence in high school forensic activities throughout the nation.

The ACBDF houses the Iowa High School Forensic League (link to IHSFL description below) were over 1000 students a year are provided the opportunity to participate in forensic activities, instruction, and competition. Three tournaments are held each year. In the past, the University organized an academic conference for high school students, teachers, coaches, and administrators.

In addition to the IHSFL, staff and students of the ACBDF work with local and national programs throughout the year. Staff members administer local and national tournaments, work with coaches and teachers on development of course curriculum to ensure the very latest argument practices and theories are available to high school programs, lecture to high school students on the principles and practice of advocacy and debate, and work with national and international associations dedicated to advancing forensic activities in our nations high schools.

Student members of the ACBDF participate in local events as critics of argument. Many obtain coaching positions where they add to the quality of argument instruction available to Iowa high school students. In addition, many of the undergraduate members of the ACBDF secure employment working at summer debate institutes around the country.

The Iowa High School Forensic League

The Iowa High School Forensic League, founded in 1906 and sponsored by The University of Iowa, is designed to serve high schools in the state of Iowa and to serve the University by contributing to the attainment of objectives such as:

  • To assist administrators and teachers in the development and enrichment of programs in speech and debate for all high school students through conferences and the distribution of free and low-cost packaged materials and publications.
  • To stimulate participation, achievement, and competence by all Iowa high school students in scholarship, communication and expression, and leadership.
  • To aid high schools in obtaining the services of competent, reliable, and otherwise well qualified critics of activities and performances in speech and debate and, at the same time, afford qualified and potentially qualified critics, instruction, guidance, and supervision in analyzing and evaluating students and their performances in accord with suggested objectives and criteria of discussion.
  • To implement and to exercise leadership in meetings of administrators, teachers, and students for the study and demonstration of forms and methods of teaching and directing speech and debate events which challenge the thinking of students and teachers and result in improved methods and procedures in teaching and learning.
  • To encourage closer articulation between the teaching and practice of forensics in Iowa high schools and in our programs in various departments and colleges in The University of Iowa.
  • To encourage students and teachers who are interested in forensics to continue their educational pursuits and professional growth in colleges and universities.
  • To stimulate and guide graduate students to select problems for critical, experimental, historical, rhetorical, and creative studies in the development, organization, teaching, and evaluation of educational methodology and materials in forensic related subject matter, skills, and media.

The Iowa High School Forensic League sponsors a program of activities which have included (1) cross-examination debate, (2) extemporaneous speaking, (3) original oratory, (4) oral interpretation of prose and poetry, (4) humorous interpretation, (5) dramatic interpretation, (6) impromptu speaking, (7) Lincoln-Douglas debate, (8) student congress, (9) and other forensic activities. Each of these activities serves as a means by which the student may develop the attitudes, knowledge, understandings, abilities, and personal speech attributes which can make her/him a more responsible, active, and effective citizen.

The League provides means by which and through which the financial, material, and personnel resources of the high schools and of The University of Iowa can be brought to bear upon the scholarship, communication and expression, and leadership in forensic in the state of Iowa.

The University of Iowa hosts the All Iowa Finals, one of two state wide competitions, each March. This tournament brings over 300 high schools students to campus for 3 days of forensic competition.

In addition, the League sponsors two invitational tournaments pitting over 40 state high schools and up to 600 total participants in speech and debate activities during the first semester.

In the past, The University of Iowa held a forensic conference that brought up to 1000 student and teacher participants in September to campus. The conference held demonstrations and panel discussions on each forensic activity, judge education, teacher enrichment, and program direction. Mr. Bellus hopes to reestablish this program as the benefits for both the high school and University community are many and substantial.

Iowa High School Speech Association

Members of the ACBDF participate in the State Association’s Speech and Debate Conference. Dr. David Hingstman provides instruction to teachers and students on the year’s topic. Hoping to bridge the gap between the two state organizations, the ACBDF’s efforts are an attempt to increase the size and level of participation of both leagues.