Forensics Society


Nationally Recognized Speech, Debate and Drama

Holy Ghost Forensics team has a long history stretching back to the 1970’s. In our almost 5 decade history, we have had:
  • 37 Consecutive Philadelphia City Speech Championships 
  • 18 Pennsylvania State Championships 
  • Hundreds of individual and team championships 
  • Over 100 individual Pennsylvania State Champions 
  • 17 individual National Champions 
  • National Coaches Hall of Fame: Head Coach Tony Figliola 
  • State Coaches Hall of Fame: Head Coach Tony Figliola
Our Mission Statement:
“The Holy Ghost Prep Forensics team strives to provide young men with opportunities to train and compete in rhetoric, argumentation, and interpretation. This participation in practice and competition aims to develop a drive to achieve excellence, both in performance and in the development of character.
Benefits of Forensics:
According to the National Speech and Debate Association, schools who offer this activity report:
  • Increased test scores
  • Rise in college acceptance
  • Creative thinking and collaboration
  • Increase in leadership
Beyond these benefits, the team offers a unique opportunity to visit and meet with representatives from competitive colleges both locally (St. Joseph’s University and University of Pennsylvania) and afar (Harvard University, Yale University, Emory University, and more). Team members develop an independence and confidence from navigating themselves through campuses and meeting other students from around the world. The nature of the competition fosters a sense of personal and communal success.
Patrick McGhee, advisor/coach -
William Doherty

HGP speech and debate team performs well on national stage

Holy Ghost Prep’s storied speech and debate program recently performed well on a pair of national stages—the National Catholic Forensics League’s Grand National Tournament in Washington, D.C. over Memorial Day Weekend and the 2018 National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) National Tournament in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, from June 16-23.

At the Grand National Tournament in D.C., Justin Gabriele ’21 and Colton El-Habr ’20 both finished as semifinalists—reaching the top 24 in the categories of declamation and extemporaneous speaking, respectively. In addition, Shane McHugh ’18, who will attend Loyola (Md.) University in the fall, advanced to the semifinals in the Student Congress competition.

Holy Ghost Prep was also well represented at the recently-completed NSDA National Tournament in Florida as Brian Gabriele ’18. Shane McHugh ’18, Colin Landers ’18, and Luke Muller ’18 all competed.

Gabriele, a National Merit finalist who will attend Johns Hopkins University this fall, received special recognition as a four-time qualifier for NSDA Nationals. In order to qualify for nationals in each of his four years at Holy Ghost Prep, Gabriele had to capture on of the top two spots in the Valley Forge district in his discipline—which is no small feat.

The four graduating seniors—Gabriele, McHugh, along with the two-time state championship-winning duo interpretation team of Landers and Muller—all ended their stellar careers together at NSDA Nationals and have left an indelible mark on HGP’s forensics program.


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Categories of competition:
The easiest way to break Forensics down is into 3 categories: Rhetoric, Performance, and Debate.
Rhetoric is the category you think of when you hear “public speaking.” The student either writes their own or memorizes a speech and presents it in 10 minutes for judges and audiences. Events in this category would be Original Oratory, Declamation, and Extemporaneous Speaking.
Performance is the category most closely related to acting and storytelling. The student or student pair edits a script, story, or poem into a 10 minute performance and presents it to judges and audiences. Events in this category would be Prose Interpretation, Poetry Interpretation, Dramatic Interpretation, Humorous Interpretation, Duo Interpretation, and Programmed Oral Interpretation.
Debate is probably the most recognizable for newcomers. The student or student team receive a resolution and prepare arguments for and against the statement. During competition, they argue against another student or team in front of judges. Events in this category would be Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Public Forum Debate, Parliamentary Debate, Policy Debate, and Student Congress Debate.