Mean Green Comet Debate Institute

Middle School

What to Expect

Our Middle School division enters its 8th year and celebrates more than 700 students who have joined us since 2014. Our staff has worked with high school and middle school students for decades. We pride ourselves on setting the standard for debate training everywhere. With this model, we continue to provide superior summer instruction in competitive speech and debate for middle school students with the goal of remaining one of the leading Middle School summer speech & debate camps in the world.

Solid Foundations Built with Contemporary Instruction

Competing on today's speech and debate circuits requires the ability to blend an understanding of traditional concepts with an eagerness to explore new ideas and strategies.

Our senior teaching staff were selected because of their experience as classroom teachers who demonstrate a commitment to mastering changing practices. Building champions requires low teacher-student ratios, high quality practice sessions, and one-on-one attention. Our classroom sessions are limited to an 8:1 ratio. Students learn research, writing, and presentation skills and engage in daily practice. Our balanced approach ensures students have the most well-rounded experience possible.

Setting the Standard

As middle school debate continues to grow in the area and around the country, we are proud to be among the first to offer a summer program for competitive debate at the highest level. Our staff has more than a decade of experience directing one of the nation's leading speech and debate workshops. Alumni have enjoyed incredible success at local, regional, and national level competitions at the high school and college levels and have matriculated to some of the finest colleges in the world.

Purposeful lessons allow us to establish high standards targeted at building solid foundations reinforced through practice. Students in competitive debate at the middle school level excel over their peers in areas of critical thinking, close reading of literature, and writing. The confidence gained through participation positively affects students in all areas of their academic and social lives.

Student-Centered Instruction

Students are divided into small “labs” based on their experience which mimic classrooms and are led by two or more instructors. Our goal is to place our most experienced teachers alongside contemporary champions in each event to provide a well-rounded approach to learning. Instruction is tailored to the individual student with the goal of meeting students where they are and guiding them along their own competitive paths.

Individual Attention

As a father, a lifelong educator, and champion debate coach, I know well the importance of participation in speech and debate. In a rapidly changing world, young people require strong analytical and advocacy skills to face tomorrow’s challenges. Competitive speech and debate help provide these invaluable skills. More than just trophies, we aim to help students cultivate a voice. Speakers and debaters know this, and that is why many are already busy preparing for the 22-23 season.

Summer workshop is vital to the success of forensic competitors. A week of debate camp equates to roughly a semester of class time. In days past, these camps were afforded only to the elite, and their weeks of preparation put them far ahead of their opponents. Those students who wish to excel will be attending camp of some kind, and we clearly understand the kind of impact losing instruction will have compared to peers. This is why we have brought a national-level workshop to the North Texas area.

Middle School Schedules 2023

  • Sessions will be held daily 9am-8pm with multiple breaks throughout
  • Sunday instruction includes the option to sleep in and take a morning break
  • More detailed schedules will be released in early June

Lincoln Douglas Schedule Public Forum Schedule Intro to Public Speaking Schedule

Session Descriptions

Lincoln Douglas

This program concentrates exclusively on Lincoln Douglas Debate and aims to be the most rigorous experience available for Middle School LD debaters. This program will serve students with 1+ year of competitive debate experience. The lectures, strategy sessions, and curriculum will not repeat from previous years. Students will read and assess critical theoretical books and essays, will be required to engage in extensive research and progressive argument and case writing, and will learn how to work with advanced policy arguments. Participants in the advanced workshop will compete in a tournament at the end of the session. This program will provide the same curricular goals as a third-year high school policy debate program but is tailored for highly successful Middle School Lincoln Douglas Debaters preparing for a competitive tournament schedule. The LD Scholars program will invite our most competitive and experienced students into advanced sessions on their own that account for their previous success and prepare them for the next level.

Public Forum

This program will concentrate exclusively on Public Forum Debate and is suitable for students who have 1+ years competitive experience in PF debate. Students will receive instruction in Public Forum that will provide a foundation for Middle School tournament success. The program has a focus on balance, with a curriculum that concentrates on speaking, presentation, and delivery at the same time teaches research techniques, basic argumentation, and case writing. The goal of this session is to help students develop the skills necessary to propel themselves forward in Middle School public forum debate tournaments. The PF Scholars program invites our most competitive and experienced students into advanced sessions on their own that account for their previous success and prepare them for the next level.

Middle School Introduction to Speech & Debate

This session is designed for middle school students (grades 5-8) interested in gaining an introduction to a broad range of speech & debate events and is designed for students with less than 1 year of experience. Students will work in very low ratios with experienced classroom teachers to discover the world of competitive speech and debate. Consistent with our philosophy, we will focus on helping students develop a love of expressing themselves in a competitive environment while also offering an environment to improve academic skills. Concentrations include speech delivery, organization, and writing. Students will prepare and deliver speeches in Original Oratory, Extemporaneous Speaking, impromptu, Public Forum, and/or Congressional debate. Evening activities will focus on providing students with a break while also exploring concepts important to their development during this week. These introductory sessions are sure to provide a balanced experience that sends students home eager to continue exploring speech and debate during the school year.

Divisions, Dates and Pricing

Section Dates In-Person Commuter Online

Middle School – Lincoln-Douglas

June 30 – July 13




Middle School – Public Forum

June 30 – July 13




Middle School – Intro to Public Speaking

July 7 – July 13




Division Director

Jason Sykes, Ph.D.

Dr. Sykes is the Director of Speech & Debate at Coppell High School. He has coached debate since 1997, and he worked at several summer institutes before establishing UNT's Mean Green Workshops, which he directed for 13 years until UNT and UTD combined their camp efforts.

Dr. Sykes’s students are highly decorated across several events. Their recent accolades include participation in late elimination rounds at major tournaments in Texas and across the country, the Tournament of Champions school sweepstakes award, four TFA State championship in the last 3 years, and top honors at the Glenbrooks, Harvard, and the Tournament of Champions, among others.

Dr. Sykes was inducted into the TFA Hall of Fame in 2020 and won the St. Mark’s Acolyte Award in 2006. He served on the TFA Executive Council from 2005 to 2009, the Lone Star NSDA District Committee from 2007 to 2009, and the North Texas Longhorns NSDA District Committee from 2019 to 2021. He is a Life Member of the National Debate Coaches Association.

As a college debater, Dr. Sykes competed in CX Debate at the University of North Texas. He won several tournaments and speaker awards and advanced to the elimination rounds of more than two-dozen events, including the National Debate Tournament and four CEDA National Championship tournaments, where he was honored as an All-American and 15th Place Speaker.

Assistant Division Director

Toby Whisenhunt

Director of Debate, Highland Park ISD for 16 years

Toby has qualified teams for the CX UIL State tournament in 15 of those years, making it to elimination rounds frequently. He also has had students advance to the semifinals of the UIL State Tournament in Lincoln Douglas including back to back years in 2021 and 2022. He has qualified numerous competitors for the Texas Forensic Association tournament which includes a top speaker and a state championship in Cross Examination. He has qualified teams for the Tournament of Champions in Kentucky and had debaters advance to elimination rounds including a 2nd place finish in 2006. He developed and implemented the middle school debate curriculum at Highland Park ISD and regularly fields teams of 7th and 8th graders who successfully compete at high school competitions. His passion for debate, ability to connect with students, and skill of explaining complex concepts in an accessible way makes him an ideal coach for novice and experienced debaters alike.

Division Staff

Erick Berdugo

Director of Debate, South Grand Prairie

Erick has coached for over 30 years. His students have competed at national tournaments including TOC, MBA Round Robin, and Genbrooks. He is currently the Director of Debate at South Grand Prairie HS whose students have taken the LD division at the UIL District Level. Erick also teached college level Physics for high school students through the University of Texas OnRAMPS program. He is also actively involved in scientific research where he has several published articles in the fields of Physical Chemistry and Crystallography.

Cortez Proal

Cortez has been in debate for almost ten years competing in high school and college. He has participated in extemp, Lincoln Douglas, policy, IPDA and NPDA debate.

Hunter McCullough

Hunter debated at the University of North Texas where he advanced to the elimination rounds of several national tournaments including the NDT and CEDA. Since then he has coached many successful teams, including Highland Park, St Mark’s School of Texas, and the University of Texas at Dallas, and he now coaches at the University of Kentucky.

Anissa Cherif

Anissa is an incoming freshman at Whitman college studying economics on a pre-law track. She's debated 4 years at Coppell Highschool advancing to elimination rounds at many major tournaments and will continue to debate in college. Anissa most looks forward to forming good connections and cultivating a culture of critical thinking.

Sirini Karunadasa

Economics student at the University of Texas at Austin with a strong background in competitive debate. During their high school career at Coppell High School, Sirini competed primarily in Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debate, reaching out rounds and bid rounds at TOC National Circuit (NatCir) tournaments as well as winning multiple Texas Forensic Association (TFA) tournaments. Sirini also served as Lincoln-Douglas Captain their senior year and achieved notable success as an octafinalist at the TFA State Tournament. Sirini has previously taught middle schoolers both privately and at the Coppell Debate Academy. This summer, Sirini is thrilled to join the Mean Green Comet Debate Camp as an instructor, where they look forward to sharing their passion for debate with the next generation of debaters.

Alexis Sibanda

Alexis Sibanda has an extensive background in competitive high school debate, excelling in both Policy and Lincoln-Douglas formats with a particular focus on kritikal debate in her later years. She attended Coppell High School in Coppell, TX, where she competed in numerous local and national tournaments, reaching out and bid rounds at several prestigious events. Recently, she has also served as a judge across various debate events. This fall, Alexis will be a sophomore at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she is majoring in Physics and Mathematics. She is enthusiastic about working with students this summer to help them achieve their full potential in debating.

Sua Cho

Sua is an incoming freshman at Boston University, majoring in education under the Trustee Scholarship—the university's most prestigious, full-tuition merit scholarship. She has experience in Lincoln-Douglas and Policy debate. Sua has judged both events at tournaments such as the Coppell Classic and The Ed Long Invitational. She has experience teaching Lincoln-Douglas at the Coppell Debate Academy. She looks forward to cultivating a welcoming and supportive debate community at the institute.

Chris Agee

Involved in speech and debate in the Dallas area for over four decades, Chris Agee recently retired from Newman Smith High School after 27 years of service to the community. He is a double diamond coach in the National Speech and Debate Association and was inducted into the Texas Forensic Association's Hall of Fame in 2015. A former policy debater for the University of North Texas, Coach Agee qualified for the NDT 3 times during his college career. Since then, he has experienced success in numerous formats and organizations, coaching students to local, state, and national success. Coach Agee is experienced in coaching multiple speech and debate events. In addition to private tutoring for middle-school students, he also provides coaching support to several schools in the metroplex, including Coppell High School and the Greenhill School. "Speech and Debate was a life-changing experience for me beginning at a young age. I was fortunate enough to build a career out of doing what I love the most--sharing these skills with others," he says. Adept at simplifying difficult concepts for younger debaters, Coach Agee is still actively engaged in the speech and debate community and looks forward to offering his unique set of skills to serve a new generation of competitors!

Enroll Now!

Click Here to Enroll

The MGCDI deadline has been extended until June 16th! Follow the link above to reserve your spot in our 2024 summer program.