High School Debate (HSPDP)

 2020 SESSION – July 13-20

The Claremont program offers more in a single week than many 2-week summer debate programs offered in the US and abroad. John Meany, the summer program director and principal instructor, created the HSPDP format.

This summer, students will have the opportunity to learn competitive and professional skills in an innovative college bridge program offering the following:

• 16 small group instructional sessions, including 6 student-selected elective sessions

• 12 full debates, critiqued by certified judges

• experienced debaters will work on advanced debate theory and sophisticated refutation in supplemental seminars led by John Meany

• 10 hours of open forum sessions – students have the opportunity to discuss and practice any element of debate and argumentation theory, as well as arrange for additional speech and debate practice0009cusd_walton1-27

• faculty are available for ‘table discussion’ during meal times – students may request a lunch or dinner discussion group on debate practice, topic preparation, research, subject-field issues (e.g., discussion on economics or international relations), current events, and more…guest faculty and field experts are often included in table discussions

• support for student professional communication in open forum and ancillary sessions and materials on effective public extemporaneous speaking, roundtable discussion, and PowerPoint presentation, including essay writing with staff from Claremont McKenna College’s Center for Writing and Public Discourse

• opportunity for high school students to participate in tournament tabulation and judge training certification for Middle School Public Debate Program leagues throughout the US (community service opportunity)

• meeting with college admissions staff for information on effectively navigating the college application process – the session includes but does not exclusively focus on admission to the Claremont Colleges or other highly selective liberal arts colleges; college admissions staff address selection and application to a broad range of colleges and universities, discuss the common application, and offer insight on academic and extracurricular evaluation, student essays, and developing strong teacher recommendations

• meeting featuring information on international debating – the Claremont Colleges Debate Union manages US international teams for upcoming tournaments and international debate exchanges in Canada, Mexico, Chile, Turkey, Korea, China, United Kingdom, Peru, Czech Republic, Germany, and Thailand

• flex time with more than 40 hours of available meal and recreational time to visit with established friends and make new ones…the summer debate program is intensive, challenging, and fun.



Summer programs are for in-residence and commuter students. Students entering 9th-12th grades in Fall 2020 are eligible to participate in high school sessions. Programming is organized for experienced students and those new to academic and professional debating, public speaking, and argumentation. Comprehensive instruction includes small group sessions, elective classes, open forums, and practice debates.

The HSPDP format was developed by John Meany. In addition, John Meany and Kate Shuster created the CHSSA parliamentary debate format and wrote the text, On That Point! An Introduction to Parliamentary Debate, for the CHSSA model. The HSPDP was developed as an adjunct to the successful Middle School Public Debate Program (MSPDP), which was created and administered by Meany/Shuster. The Meany/Shuster text, Speak Up! Debate and Public Speaking in High School, was written for the High School Public Debate Program (HSPDP). John Meany is the author of all annual topics for the HSPDP and has written CHSSA State Championship parliamentary debate topics for the past 4 years.

The 2020 Claremont Summer schedule allows a student to register for more than 2 weeks of summer instruction, participating in the Leadership & Professional Communication session and the HSPDP debate session.




Information includes a schedule summary.

The summer program provides comprehensive debate training. Students participating in the high school sessions receive small group instruction and elective course instruction (4-1 student-faculty ratio) in public speaking, argumentation, refutation, dynamic format elements (Points of Information and/or heckling), debate and argument theory, and topic-based research and advanced applied strategy and tactics. In addition, they participate in debates critiqued by program/institute certified judges.

There is optional/elective time for student-directed learning. Debaters have the opportunity to have their questions answered at the end of each day. They can also get a jump-start on the following day’s debate activities, have extended theory and practice discussions, learn about other debate format and methods. This happens in open forum sessions. Select debates use pre-announced topics (students prepare for the issues in advance – this ensures that ‘topic-based knowledge is less of a factor in the debates and debaters/judges may use the practice session to concentrate on format, public speaking/organization, POIs and/or heckling, argumentation and refutation techniques, strategies/tactics, and theory skills).

The schedule for 2018 high school school debate programming will include the following:

  • 10 hours of small group instruction
  • 100 elective courses available during 30 1-hour sessions
  • 14 rounds of critiqued debates by certified judges
  • 12 hours of open forum sessions
  • Optional – Audition for International Public Debate Program

Pre-announced Topics for HSPDP Parliamentary Debate

  •  The US should abolish the Electoral College.
  • Environmentalism does more harm than good.
  • The US should pay reparations for slavery.