Beginning in 1992, the City College High School
Board of Visitors began to grapple with the problem of how to better
define the school in the marketplace of Baltimore City high schools.
Specifically, the board examined which of the activities academic
and/or extra-curricular have historically distinguished the
school and might be showcased. A natural on the list was
the long-dormant and sorely missed Speech and Debate program.
|City College became the first public high school in Baltimore City to field a debate team since the National Catholic Forensic League began in 1951.
The tradition of Speech and Debate at City College
goes back to the 1870s, when the Bancroft Literary Society and the
Carrollton Wight Literary Society provided forums at the school
for the development of student debaters. The list of Citys
Speech and Debate alumni is a long and distinguished one, and includes
mayors, governors, leading academics and captains of business and
In 1997, after a year of study and with funding from
The Abell Foundation, City College revived its historic but long
dormant Speech and Debate program and began earning for itself a
reputation as a leading high school for forensic studies.
By the fall of 1997, a fledgling City College Speech
and Debate team, under tutelage of a veteran coach and carrying
the banners of the venerable Bancroft and Carrollton Wight debating
societies, began to debate in competitions around the region.
|The program is helping to define and distinguish City College as the pre-eminent high school for humanities in the region.
In making its first appearance in the National Catholic Forensic League, City College became the first public high school in Baltimore City to field a debate team since the League began in 1951. City’s Speech and Debate program comprises five separate disciplines: Student Congress, Lincoln-Douglas, Declamation, Policy, and Mock Trial.
About 60 students participate in the program, now
integrated into the City College curriculum. The year’s coursework
calls for training in all five disciplines and for competing in
regional tournaments. Local tournaments include matches against
Gilman, Calvert Hall, Friends, Loyola and Pikesville; in a typical
year, the students travel to Princeton, Yale, Harvard and Penn,
competing with the best high school debate programs in the country.
In this intense competition, the City College teams have won their
share of awards.
In recent years City College won the championship
of both the National Catholic Forensic League and the Baltimore
Urban Debate League - creating a record that is not likely to be
topped. In Harvard's National Invitational high School competition,
City finished in the top fifth of the country. City's Mock Trial
team won the Baltimore City championship - in a league that includes
Friends School, Boys Latin, Gilman, and Bryn Mawr. City won the
National Forensic League (Chesapeake Region) Sweepstakes Championship,
while qualifying an historic six competitors in the national tournament.
The renowned City College Speech and Debate program
is working. Speech and Debate students' test scores are consistently
among the highest in the city and the state, and its graduates are
admitted in impressive numbers to America's most prestigious colleges.
Most recently, of the eleven City College students admitted into
Tier One colleges, eight were Speech and Debate students.
The program is bringing recognition and prestige to
City College and to the Baltimore City Public School System.