Barkley Forum for High Schools Tournament

The Barkley Forum for High Schools (BFHS) has been firmly committed to supporting high school forensics since it began in 1956 and continues today to provide top-flight national competition at the high school level.

Each year, typically during the last weekend of January, over a thousand students, teachers, school administrators, and college coaches descend on the Emory University campus from 35 states to engage in a variety of forensic events.  The BFHS showcases successful high school participants in final rounds packed with large audiences and honors the high school teachers who work hard to provide a forensics education to their students.

The tournament hosts six Speech events, Congressional Debate, Lincoln-Douglas, Public Forum, and Policy Debate.  The Speech events are Dramatic Interpretation, Humorous Interpretation, Extemporaneous Speaking (foreign and domestic in one division), Original Oratory, Duo Interpretation, and Prose & Poetry.

Registration for the tournament. Registration is typically open in mid-October.

BFHS Tournament History

In 1956, the membership of the Barkley Forum decided to host a tournament for high school debaters. Inviting high schools to debate on the Emory campus provided an opportunity for the students of the university to offer excellent debate competition and judging for high school students. The goal of honoring high school students and their teachers for their commitment to forensics achievement remains the defining purpose of the Barkley Forum for High Schools.

Speech and debate have evolved tremendously over the last half-century, and the Barkley Forum acknowledges and welcomes changes. However, some fundamental concepts that support forensic excellence remain constant, and the Barkley Forum seeks to honor these traditions. Commitment to pedagogy, dedication to achievement, and respect for the efforts of others define characteristics of a quality forensics education.


Melissa Maxcy Wade Social Justice Award

Emory University forensics has a long history of encouraging students to use their forensics skills for the greater good of our society. Both as a collective and as individual members, the Barkley Forum encourages service to others. The Barkley Forum was at the forefront of the urban debate league movement to bring debate to disenfranchised students. When middle school students expressed a desire to debate in Georgia, the Barkley Forum formed partnerships to provide those opportunities to students. The Barkley Forum for High Schools itself was originally founded as a service to the forensics community in Georgia.

While we value and reward competitive success at the Barkley Forum for High Schools, we also value service to others, and we wish to reward and recognize a student competing in our tournament who has a passion for social justice work and a desire to continue to use his or her gifts and skills to serve others in his or her community.

Any forensics competitor who is active on his or her squad and who will be attending the 2018 Barkley Forum for High Schools may be nominated for the award. Nominations can be from coaches, judges, or other members of the forensics community who familiar with the student's work.
Nominations should include:

  • The name and school of the nominee
  • The reasons for the nomination, preferably including anecdotes and examples of the student's service
  • The name and affiliation of the person submitting the nomination

Nominations should be emailed to by January 8, 2018.  Finalists for the award will be announced during the week prior to the tournament, and the award will be presented at the Opening Ceremony.

2018 nomination form.

In addition to a framed award, the award recipient will receive a $400 cash prize to be directed to the charitable organization of the recipient’s choice and a $100 cash prize for the recipient’s/nominator’s debate program. 

2017 recipient: Esther Reyes, Achievement First Brooklyn (NY)

Key Societies

The Barkley Forum for High Schools remains one of the most prestigious events in high school forensic competition, annually receiving hundreds more applicants than space allows entry.  The last day of the tournament features a series of exhibitions of the various forensic arts performed in packed auditoriums on the Emory campus. This day culminates in the Procession of the Keys, the Hall of Champions Debate, and the Final Awards Assembly.

In 1964, the Barkley Forum, under the direction of Glenn Pelham, former coach of BFHS winner Cairo High School (1959), began to invite successful high school coaches into an honor society known as the Key Society. The most prestigious presentation made by the Barkley Forum is the presentation of the Gold Key. Each year the members of the self-perpetuating Key Society invite a select number of debate teachers from schools across the nation into membership in a ceremony held during the Barkley Forum for High Schools.

Name Year School
1. Evelyn Anderson Campbell* 1964 Montgomery Bell Academy
2. Rose B. Johnson* 1964 Woodlawn
3. Dorothy McColl Lupold 1964 A. C. Flora
4. Harold Donald Phillips* 1964 Central Gwinnett
5. Elliot Tourret Schmidt 1964 McCallie
6. Elizabeth Hall Vickery* 1964 Hart County
7. Peggy Maxwell Childs* 1965 Cross Keys
8. Matilou Bolton Duke* 1965 BGA
9. Sandra Worthington Silvers* 1965 Calhoun
10. Robert H. Woodland 1965 Clarkesville
11. Michael James Longsdon* 1966 Leon
12. Sister Mary Elaine Ryan* 1966 St. Pius X
13. Etta Scarborough* 1966 Sarasota
14. Hunter A. Strickland* 1966 Putnam County
15. Jane Wright Eldridge* 1967 Madison (Hunters Lane)
16. Franklin Dean Grant* 1967 Chamblee
17. Hazel Green Gann 1968 Unicoi County
18. Eugene C. Loring* 1968 Central Gwinnett
19. Anne Douglas White 1968 John Overton
20. Robert Dillard Ballentine* 1969 Woodward
21. James Lewis Mann II 1969 Dreher
22. Linda Whitaker Rothwell 1969 Dutch Forte (Irmo)
23. Mary Dean 1970 Bluefield
24. Charles Frederick Clark 1971 North Springs
25. James Madison Copeland 1971 Marquette University HS
26. John Robert Hester* 1971 Frayser
27. Selma Earnest Ridgway 1971 Montgomery Bell Academy
28. Kenneth H. Rosenthal 1972 Coral Gables
29. Thomas Edward Shoemate* 1972 Lakeside
30. David Thomas Mellon Horn, Jr. 1973 Bishop McDevitt
31. Harry T. Klugel 1973 Wheaton
32. John Sexton 1973 St. Brendan
33. Ralph E. Carey* 1974 Miami Beach
34. Brother Gregory Rene Sterner* 1974 Calvert Hall
35. William Miles Vogel 1975 Lakeland
36. Theodore Phillip Wolf* 1975 North Springs
37. Phyllis Flory Barton* 1976 Princeton
38. Charles Edwin Brower* 1976 Dallas-Jesuit
39. Robert Stanley Erwin 1976 Virgil T. Grissom (Calhoun)
40. Tony Wayne Anderson 1977 Peachtree
41. Charline Ladd Burton 1977 Heritage Hall
42. Esther Wolf Kalmbach 1977 Whitmer
43. Thomas Glenn Pelham* 1977 In honorarium
44. Ted Woodrow Belch 1978 Glenbrook South (GBN)
45. Julia Blyton Roberts 1978 Paducah-Tilghman
46. Richard B. Sodikow* 1978 Bronx Science
47. George King Mengert 1979 Pace
48. Rhoda Kirchner Radow* 1979 Nova
49. Thomas Wooten Williams 1979 Chillicothe
50. Ralph Eugene Bender* 1980 Centerville
51. Dale Lauder McCall 1980 Twin Lakes (Wellington)
52. George Henry Stege 1980 Glenbrook South
53. Virginia Priest Sutherland 1980 Myers Park
54. Melissa Maxcy Wade 1980 In honorarium
55. Kenny Dale Barfield 1981 Mars Hill
56. Thomas Donald Smith 1981 Firestone
57. Barbara Burns Swisher* 1981 Charles Henderson
58. Dennis Duane Winfield 1981 In honorarium
59. Lanny Dean Naegelin* 1982 Winston Churchill
60. Paula Harris Nettles 1982 Woodward
61. James John Unger* 1982 In honorarium
62. James E. Fleissner 1983 Kinkaid
63. Susan Tillman Pelham 1983 In honorarium
64. William Woods Tate, Jr.* 1983 Montgomery Bell Academy
65. Daryl J. Fisher 1984 Isidore Newman
66. Lois Cromar Hintze 1984 Heritage Hall
67. James Shipp 1985 Marysville
68. Charles Spurlock 1985 Pace
69. Paul Allen Newman* 1986 Kinkaid
70. Leslie Earl Phillips 1986 Lexington
71. Rhae Martin Swisher, Jr.* 1986 In honorarium
72. Lee James Turner 1986 Pine Crest
73. Greg Edward Varley 1986 Lakeland
74. Patricia Bailey 1987 Homewood
75. Roberta Dawes 1987 Overton
76. Bob Frank 1987 Great Bridge
77. Father Raymond Hahn 1987 Cathedral Prep
78. Walter Alan Ulrich* 1987 In honorarium
79. David Baker 1988 St. Mark’s
80. Eric Brannen 1988 Westminster
81. Sally Schecter 1988 Hendrick Hudson
82. Tim Averill 1989 Manchester
83. Dennis DeYoung 1989 Montgomery Bell Academy
84. Fran Berger* 1989 Miami Palmetto
85. Eric DiMichele 1990 Regis
86. Marilee Dukes 1990 Vestavia
87. Glenda Ferguson 1990 Heritage Hall
88. Alex Pritchard 1991 Greenhill (Westwood)
89. Randy Shaver 1991 Thomas Wingate Andrews
90. Jeffrey Wortman 1991 Glenbrook North
91. Byron Arthur 1992 Jesuit – New Orleans (Holy Cross)
92. Brent Farrand 1992 Newark Science
93. David Richardson 1993 Omaha Westside
94. Merle Ulery 1993 North Miami Beach
95. James Paul Hunter 1994 Oak Park-River Forest
96. Gloria Robison-Robinson 1994 St. James (Ronald Reagan)
97. Paul Slappey* 1994 In honorarium
98. Chris Wheatley 1994 Pace
99. Marie Dzuris 1995 Centerville
100. Rich Edwards 1995 In honorarium
101. Julie Sheinman 1995 Stuyvesant
102. John Woollen 1995 Enloe
103. Richard Bracknell 1996 Carrollton
104. Randy McCutcheon 1996 Albuquerque Academy
105. Bruce Rogers 1996 Northside
106. Ed Williams 1996 Charlotte-Latin (Woodward)
107. Sandra Davis* 1997 Battle Ground Academy
108. Rose Joyce 1997 Monticello
109. Michele Coody* 1997 St. James
110. Tom Sullivan* 1998 In honorarium
111. David Glass 1998 Edgemont
112. Sheryl Kaczmarek 1998 Newburgh Free Academy
113. Matthew Whipple 1998 Glenbrook South
114. Alan Coverstone 1999 Montgomery Bell Academy
115. Aaron Timmons 1999 Greenhill
116. David Cheshier 2000 In honorarium
117. Betty Maddox 2000 In honorarium
118. Greg Myrberg* 2000 Iowa City West
119. (vacated) 2000
120. J.W. Patterson 2000 In honorarium
121. Kandi King 2001 Winston Churchill
122. Michael Jablonski 2001 In honorarium
123. Dan Lingel 2002 Dallas-Jesuit
124. Jim Wade 2002 Milton
125. Jane Boyd 2003 Grapevine
126. Frank Seaver 2003 Woodward Academy
127. Tommie Lindsey 2004 James Logan
128. Lisa Miller 2004 Nova
129. Bill Newnam 2004 Emory University
130. David Huston 2005 Highland Park
131. Linda Oddo 2005 New Trier
132. Warren Sprouse 2005 Cedar Rapids Washington
133. Jonathan Alston 2006 Newark Science
134. Sharon Semmens 2006 In honorarium
135. Doug Springer 2006 New Trier
136. Tara Tate 2006 Glenbrook South
137. Scott Wunn 2006 National Forensics League
138. Eric Emerson 2007 Kinkaid
139. Lexy Green 2007 College Preparatory
140. Jenny Heidt 2007 Westminster
141. Jay Rye 2007 Montgomery Academy
142. Pam Cady Wycoff 2007 Apple Valley
143. Michael Bacon* 2008 Newburgh Free Academy, In honorarium
144. Allan Louden 2008 In honorarium
145. Tracy McFarland 2008 Dallas Jesuit
146. Jim Wakefield 2008 Ft. Lauderdale
147. (vacated) 2009
148. Shuntá Jordan 2009 Pace Academy
149. Andrew West 2009 Myers Park
150. Tony Figliola 2010 Holy Ghost Prep
151. Bruce Miller 2010 Bishop Guertin
152. Wayne Tang 2010 Maine East
153. Lisa Willoughby 2010 Henry W. Grady
154. Stefan Bauschard 2011 Lakeland
155. Tim Mahoney 2011 St. Mark’s
156. Randy Patterson 2011 St. Andrew’s Episcopal
157. Ross Smith* 2011 In honorarium
158. Maggie Berthiaume 2012 Woodward
159. Kevin Hamrick 2012 Montgomery Bell Academy
160. Steve Stein 2012 In honorarium
161. Mike Edmonds 2012 In honorarium
162. Greg Malis 2013 Isidore Newman
163. Peter Pober 2013 In honorarium
164. Sara Sanchez 2013 Lexington
165. Daryl Burch 2014 In honorarium
166. Michael Greenstein 2014 Glenbrook North
167. James Herndon 2014 In honorarium
168. Dana Randall 2014 Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart
169. Father Michael Tidd, OSB 2014 Delbarton
170. Mario Herrera 2015 Henry W. Grady High School
171. Mike Janas 2015 In honorarium
172. Shane Stafford 2015 The Blake School
173. Lane Bearden 2016 Calhoun High School
174. Kara Grant 2016 In honorarium
175. Alfred "Tuna" Snider* 2016 In honorarium, in memoriam
176. Christina Tallungan 2016 Notre Dame High School
177. David Heidt 2017 Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart
178. Larry Moss 2017 In honorarium
179. Chris Palmer 2017 Lexington
180. Jordana Sternberg 2017 Westminster
181. Nicole Wanzer-Serrano 2017 In honorarium


In commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Barkley Forum for High Schools in 1980, the Forum began to award the prestigious Silver Key to first place winners in all events at the BFHS. The Silver Key is a small sterling silver emblem duplicating the design of the prestigious Gold Key award to the coaches of the Gold Key Society. The silver key has no engraving representing its timeless respect for forensics winners past, present, and future.

2017 Silver Key Award Recipients:

Pelham Debates Champions: Andrew Kaplan and Ben Rosenthal, Montgomery Bell Academy
Pelham Debates Speaker: Nishad Neelakandan, McDonogh
Congressional Debate Champion: Maya Levkovitz, Dreyfoos School of the Arts
Lincoln Douglas Champion: Alex Zhao, La Canada
Public Forum Champions: Ozan Ergungor and Ammar Lone, Hawken
Public Forum Speaker: Ben Koch, Bronx Science
Extemporaneous Speaking: Andrew Langford, Lake Highland Preparatory
Original Oratory: JJ Kapur, West Des Moines Valley
Duo Interpretation: Kerrington Anderson and Derek Collins, Hattiesburg
Prose & Poetry: Quest Broussard, Comeaux
Humorous Interpretation: Jack Gossen, Comeaux
Dramatic Interpretation: Chase Garrett, Southside

The Barkley Forum awards keys as trophies as part of a unique tradition passed down by former Director Glenn Pelham. The Barkley Forum Trophy is a larger key cast from an antique brass key hidden in Georgia before Sherman's March to the Sea in 1864. The original key was found and donated to Emory University's Barkley Forum by Susan and Thomas Glenn Pelham. Nashville attorney Larry David Woods, a distinguished alumnus of Emory and former President of the Forum and of the national forensics fraternity Delta Sigma Rho-Tau Kappa Alpha gave a grant to have Keys cast each year from the original key.