Frequently Asked Questions
How do I sign up for membership?
Why should a school join WHSFA?
Who do I contact with questions?
You can always start with the State Office, who will find the best answer to your question.
Where and when are contests?
How do I register for contests?
Who are my local contest coordinators (high school)?
See the Districts/Sections page for a list of contacts, along with a map showing the geographic regions of the state.
How do I suggest a change to rules?
Each summer, advisory committees for each activity meet to review the previous contest season and propose changes to the Board of Control. Contact us with concerns and/or suggestions, and we will forward these to the respective committee(s).
How do I host a festival?
How many entries am I allowed in Speech?
How do I get certified to adjudicate (judge) Speech contests?
You will enroll in an online course that takes about 2 hours, followed by a 2.5-hour in-person workshop. The initial certification fee is $36.50 and lasts 3 years, at which point you will be able to renew. To learn more, visit our adjudication page.
How do I renew certification to adjudicate (judge) Speech contests?
You will enroll in an online course that takes about 30 minutes, plus evaluating a student presentation. Upon receipt of the $6 recertification fee and successful completion of the course and evaluation, certification will be renewed. To learn more, visit our adjudication page.
How many Speech adjudicators am I required to have?
Generally speaking, contests ask for one adjudicator for every five entries, or fraction thereof. Some contests require fewer or more. This means that if a school has 7 entries, it should bring two adjudicators. Some contests will allow schools to pay a fee for uncovered adjudicators, not because they have extras they can hire for a school, but to incentivize schools to bring their own adjudicators. It is a burden on any host when schools do not provide all of the adjudicators they are expected to. The State Festival requires one adjudicator for 1-8 entries, two adjudicators for 9-19 entries, and three adjudicators for 20-25 entries.
How do I register a complaint about an adjudicator?
Do you have a list of descriptive words/phrases adjudicators can use?
Yes! Please see our Descriptive Words/Phrases for Adjudicators.
How and when do I book a slot for State Speech?
When initial Speech registration opens on SpeechWire (see the Speech Contests page), coaches will be able to immediately book a slot, on a first come, first served basis. This is to ensure enough classrooms for each contest round at the UW-Madison campus. Time slot options include Friday at 5:30pm and 7:00pm, and Saturday at 9:30am and 11:00am. Schools who plan to have more than 4 entries combined between Group Interpretive Reading and Play Acting must book a Saturday slot.
How many entries are allowed in Speech?
A school may register up to 25 entries overall, for their squad, with up to four (4) entries in any category, with the following additional limitations:
- No more than four (4) entries in Solo Acting Humorous and Serious, combined
- No more than six (6) entries in Group Interpretive Reading and Play Acting (and no more than four in each). If a school brings 5 or 6 group entries to the State Festival, it must attend on Saturday.
Is there a minimum time for presentations?
The WHSFA has traditionally not required a minimum time for presentations, although adjudicators are encouraged to evaluate development — or lack thereof — of each presentation. This should be evaluated in the criterion regarding development in speech categories, and in the criterion regarding understanding meaning in interpretive categories.
When is it a costume?
In interpretive categories, if contestants wear clothing implied for a particular character or described in the script, that is a costume. In group categories, merely dressing alike does not constitute a costume, unless the script calls for it (such as characters who are twins). In speech categories, if a student is wearing the attire called for by a particular occasion or topic, that is a costume. However, in Demonstration Speaking, students should wear attire appropriate to what is being demonstrated.
What literary material is allowed in interpretive categories?
Material is allowable as long as it fits the literary genre prescribed in the rules for the particular category a contestant is participating in, and it meets content expectations of the contestant’s school/school district administration. Please note that transcribed media, such as YouTube, are categorized by the genre of the source material being performed, and not by the mode of performance itself. This means if a YouTube performer is presenting a prose narrative, the material is categorized as prose, and NOT as drama. For more details on rules, please see the Speech Handbook on the Categories & Topics page. For contestants in Farrago and Solo Acting (Humorous or Serious), students also are required to perform quality material (see definition below), although this standard could be applied to any interpretive category. A side note: for schools participating in national qualifying contests, such as those offered by the NSDA and NCFL, there are more stringent rules pertaining to how the material is published, and coaches should consult those rules, accordingly. Finally, we annotated the descriptions on the Categories & Topics page to include allowed genre(s) for each category.
What is the definition of 'quality material' required for Farrago and Solo Acting (Humorous or Serious)?
Quality material is defined as that which “gives insight into human values, motivations, relationships, problems and understandings and is not characterized by sentimentality, violence for its own sake, unmotivated endings or stereotyped characterizations.” It is recommended that such material be sought for all interpretive categories, even if there is no specific evaluation item related to selection of material.
Can non-drama genres of literature (such as novels or poetry) be adapted for performance in Play Acting?
No. This is abuses copyright/intellectual property rights of the material’s original author. We have been asked if an adaptation of another’s work fits the definition of “original,” and the answer is no. Those concepts and ideas are still the intellectual property of the original author. Fortunately, we have a Group Interpretive Reading category, where works of literature that are not drama are perfectly suitable for performance.
What is the definition of 'drama' required for Play Acting and disallowed for Group Interpretive Reading?
Drama is literature with line attributions to particular characters and with stage directions, such as a play. Dramatic literature is not allowed in Group Interpretive Reading, and is required in Play Acting.
Where do I find literary material for interpretive categories?
First, review the definition above for quality material. This is a great standard to apply to literary material in all interpretive categories. Start by asking students books they’ve read (on their own and/or in classes) or movies/television shows they’ve viewed that resonated with them. Ask what current issues in society are important to them. Knowing students’ interests helps you find material they can be passionate about, which will come through in their performance. The school library is a great place to start. In fact, some librarians have a limited budget for acquiring new materials, so they may have a catalogue of plays and other materials. The public library is another place to look, and asking English and theatre teachers for ideas can be helpful. Be wary of vendors who publish literature for “contest” or “classroom” performance, since these often lack the depth of what can be found in other works of literature the student would need to cut to contest length. The process of cutting can be a tremendous learning experience for students, as they determine what themes and character qualities they wish to cultivate in their performances.
What is the entry limit?
While we used to have entry limits for each middle level category, the Middle Level Advisory Committee recommended abolishing this beginning with the 2015-16 school year. That said, we do encourage schools to distribute their entries across different categories to maximize the educational experiences students receive.
Who makes copies of evaluation sheets for middle level festivals?
The state office provides these for official Level 1 and 2 festivals; however, festival managers may request a stipend in lieu of these copies, when completing the festival materials request form (see the Middle Level Contests page for more information).