UTNIF Public Forum workshops are designed for students of all skill levels. Students will be placed into the appropriate instructional group at the discretion of the Public Forum Curriculum Director. Students participating at the Novice and Intermediate level will be introduced to the foundations of argument construction, presentation and speaking, tournament preparation, and in round strategy. Students with greater experience in PF competition and ready to advance to the next level, will finely hone debating skills and work with the unique structure of the PF activity to develop strategic approaches to contest round victory.All students will give many practice speeches, have practice debates, rebuttal re-dos as well as stop/start speeches and debates.
Students attending UTNIF debate camps must be in High School or Middle School. We do not offer a curriculum serving elementary school students. In rare circumstances, we have accepted students who will be entering the 7th grade, although this requires permission from the camp director. Students must be at least 13 years of age to stay as residents in the dorm. Students entering the 7th grade who are not 13, may be able to attend as commuters, with prior permission from the camp director.
The Curriculum Director for our 2016 Public Forum workshop is Joseph Uhler of Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. Joseph was the Director of Forensics at Anderson for twelve years before coaching at Westlake. His students at Anderson reached elimination rounds at TFA State, UIL State, NFL/NSDA Nationals, and the Tournament of Champions. In 2010, Joseph’s students Haydn Forrest and Shaan Heng-Devan, advanced to the final round of the Tournament of Champions in Extemporaneous Speaking. In 2011, Joseph’s student, David Engleman, won TFA State in Congressional Debate (House). In 2015, Joseph’s student, Nikki Dargahi, won TFA State in Original Oratory. Anderson consistently finished in the top five overall sweepstakes at the UT Longhorn Classic, and, finished in the top ten in overall sweepstakes at TFA State five of the past seven years. In 2015, Joseph’s Public Forum team of Lucy Tiblier and Finley Patterson was invited to the Harvard Round Robin.
Mrs. Rhonda Smith has coached debate for 17 years. As the director of forensics at Plano West Senior High School, Mrs. Smith has facilitated the success of her students. The Plano West Speech and Debate team has had 90-100% of its team qualified for state over the past 6 years under Mrs. Smith’s direction. She has additionally coached students invited to the Montgomery Bell Academy Extemporaneous Speaking Round Robin for four of the past 5 years, the Harvard Public Forum Debate Round Robin for two of the past three years, and the Texas Capital City Extemporaneous Speaking Round Robin every year since its inception. For the past two years, Plano West has had Public Forum Debate teams into the late rounds at the NSDA National Tournament (placing 6th in 2015) and has received a School of Outstanding Distinction award.
Joshua is a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin, studying Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Cockrell School of Engineering. He debated for four years at William P. Clements High School and competed in Public Forum Debate and Extemporaneous Speaking. As a competitor in Public Forum, Joshua advanced to Round 8 at the NSDA National Tournament and also won the TFA State Tournament his senior year (2015). He was invited twice to the Bellaire Round Robin, finishing in first place his senior year (2014). Other notable accomplishments include reaching Semifinals of TFA State in Foreign Extemp (2015) and making it to Octofinals of TFA State in Public Forum in 2013 and 2014. While Joshua no longer competes in speech and debate, his high school experiences of competing alongside his three best friends (and partners) are still among his most cherished memories.
Aabid Shivji is a rising junior at Southern Methodist University. He has worked as an assistant coach for Colleyville Heritage High School since graduating from the school in 2014, coaching PF, as well as LD debate. This year, his debaters earned three collective bids to the Tournament of Champions, as well as three state qualifications and two double-octafinalist finishes at the TFA State tournament. His debaters have also cleared at prestigious tournaments such as The Glenbrooks, Emory, Cal Berkeley, UT Longhorn Classic, Grapevine, St. Marks, and TFA State. His teams have finished 3rd at Cal Berkeley (2016), Quarterfinalists at TFA State (2015), as well as 3rd at the UT Longhorn Classic (2015), among multiple NSDA national tournament qualifications. As a competitor, Aabid finished in the Top 32 in LD at TFA State his senior year, and also finished as the 3rd speaker at that tournament the same year. He was a two-time qualifier to TFA State. He’s extremely excited to come down to Austin for the first time as an instructor!
For those desiring additional information about the PF Curriculum:
All students will participate in experience appropriate discussions and background seminars on rotating PF topics. Students will engage in skills development through practice debates, re-do speeches, and stop/start instruction. The goal is to train students to seamlessly incorporate sound argument and persuasion skills into contest round performance. Students will learn to how to incorporate evidence into their speeches without becoming dependent upon it. All students will receive the individualized criticism, encouragement and instruction they need to come away from the workshop much improved. Participants in UTNIF PF will have the chance to be heard and critiqued by judges and coaches from within the PF field as well as across the forensics spectrum. Students looking for a more challenging experience are welcome to attend both sessions of instruction.