Especially as a middle schooler, you will most definitely face a lot of barriers in running the logistics of the club. Thus, it is paramount for you to find an adult, including a teacher or a parent, to help run the logistical aspects of the club.
Step 1: Creating the Foundation Before anything, you want to have a solid foundation, something that you can advertise as a stable club to other students, administrators, as well as prospective sponsors.
Find a core group of students. Whether it’s friends, classmates, or complete strangers, try to start by creating a central leadership team who can help you out in the first steps of the club
Finding this core group is important as it’s much easier to create a club with help
Get familiar with the organization. Read through our resource page about Speech and Debate, the importance of speech and debate, etc.
Like any new thing, you want to be ready in your pitch to teachers, administrators, etc.
Step 2: Convincing Administrators and Teacher Sponsors Oftentimes, you need administrative support for starting a speech and debate club. You will also need a teacher/adult sponsor of your club. Convincing them can be a tough task, but there’s a couple things you can do to maximize your chances of success!
1] Be respectful!
They are your teacher and do not have an obligation to say yes-- make sure you acknowledge their authority and persuade them to want to approve the club
Appeal to them-- discuss why a speech and debate team would be beneficial to their school
Explain the benefits they will experience as a result of having a speech and debate team-- it would add academic value to their school and bring prestige to their program
2] Be prepared!
Have short-term and long-term goals for your club
Make a list of tournaments in your area for your team to compete in
Learning about the events you would like to participate in will go a long way-- explain why you think those events would be most successful at your school
3] Be personal!
Explain why you decided to start a debate program at your particular institution
Describe what your club will look like in-depth, and how it will operate within your specific context
Use other clubs and activities in your school to explain the relations and distinctions your club will have with programs the sponsor is already familiar with
But how do you find a teacher sponsor to begin with? There are a couple of places you can check first:
Start with someone who you have a good relationship with-- If not, try someone who you think might be interested or has prior experience
Sponsors should be qualified teacher at your school that can provide guidance even if they don’t have extensive debate experience, but ideally, your sponsor will have some experience with either speech and debate or other academic/communication activities
Sponsors should be available to counsel students on matters concerning school procedures, rules, and regulations.
Step 3: Figure out Logistics In order to get your club up and running you have to figure out some logistical things.
Have a practice schedule in place-- not only does this add structure to you club to make it more successful, it makes it more appealing to prospective sponsors
Decide which specific events would make sense in the context of your school
Publicize the club thoroughly across campus-- intercom announcements, flyers, school-wide messages are great ways to spread the word about the start of the club
You may also need to figure out finances. Like any club, these finances have a lot of specific guidelines surrounding them
After finding a sponsor, get your teacher sponsor to set up a centralized source of money to pay for tournament fees for the team (bank account, booster club, etc.)
Make sure a teacher sponsor does this, as minors are largely not allowed to set up organizational finances without an accompanying adult.
This central account will be helpful for paying for team costs, as well as acting as a main account to write checks, submit team fees, and any extra payments to.
You should keep finances online instead of cash, as this will decrease the amount of accounting and logistical issues you face.
Different districts and schools have different policies. Check your schools club finance policy to ensure you aren’t crossing any red lines.
Step 4: Get Started! Congrats, the club is now official! It’s now time for your club to get up and running. Continue on in this guide to figure out how to start competing, starting with registration for the different speech and debate organizations.