Debates 105
addition of the track meets with their ever increasing number of
contestants proved burdensome to the Literary Societies which
assumed their entertainment.
On April 7-8, 1939, the first annual North Carolina High School
Debate and Speech Tournament was held at Wake Forest College. In
the detailed announcements and invitation sent by the committee in
charge to the fifty Group I Standard High Schools in the State, the
purpose of the tournament is indicated as follows
Repeatedly there have come from high school principals and debate coaches
suggestions that steps be taken to improve the status of organized speech and debate
work in the high schools. The criticism that the present system encourages stilted,
declamatory speeches and discourages extemporaneous, direct-clash debating has
come from many quarters. To meet the need so many have felt, the North Carolina
Association of Teachers of Speech, in which twelve colleges and universities hold
membership, has decided to sponsor this high school tournament at Wake Forest.
Professor Edwin H. Paget, Director of the Division of Speech at N.
C. State College, then President of the N. C. Association of Teachers
of Speech, was one of the most ardent advocates of the new
tournament. After its establishment he and his debaters continued to
contribute greatly to its success.
The task of working out the numerous details of organization fell to
Mr. Zon Robinson, Instructor in Speech and Director of Forensics,
who first asked and secured for the undertaking the approval and
financial support of the trustees of the College. He also submitted the
plan of the proposed tournament to many leading high school officials
and coaches for their reactions. Typical of the overwhelmingly
favorable response is the following from Superintendent L. E.
Andrews of the Lexington high schools: "I think the plan of the
speech tournament to be held at Wake Forest more nearly meets the
needs of our high schools than anything we have had in the state
heretofore. The plan will furnish a genuine incentive for real speech
work."
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