Middle Level Contests

The calendar of upcoming dates is updated as the State Office receives requests (see Reserve a Date button to the right). Closed meets (due to space limitations) may not be listed. If you’re a coach attending a festival using SpeechWire for online registration, click the dark blue button (Online Registration via SpeechWire) below to take you to the calendar listing, and click “Register” next to the contest you wish to register for.

Upcoming Middle Level Dates

Any given student participating in WHSFA middle level contests may participate in one Level 1 contest and one Level 2 contest, plus any number of invitational contests.

For festivals using SpeechWire, click here for links to online registration.

Middle Level FAQs

Are song lyrics poetry? If not, what literary genre?

Song lyrics are poetry, unless the song comes from a stage or film musical (e.g., Hamilton, or The Greatest Showman) — then they’re considered drama (dramatic literature). The exception would be a song that existed prior to its incorporation in a musical (e.g., “Dancing Queen” in Mamma Mia! or “Rhythm of the Night” in Moulin Rouge).

Can plays in verse be used in Poetry? Group Interpretive Reading?

Plays written in dramatic verse (such as Shakespeare’s or Sophocles’) are dramatic literature, and as such, must be performed in categories where drama/plays are allowed. They are not considered poems, per se, even though they are written in meter/verse. Therefore, they should not be performed in high school Group Interpretive Reading, but may be used in Middle Level Readers Theatre, since that category allows for dramatic literature.

Where and when are contests?

Visit the Speech Contests, Theatre Contests, Debate Contests, or Middle Level contests pages for a list by date, including locations. Please note: each local area sets its own schedules, so the State Office posts these on our website only when we have been notified.

How do I register for contests?
Visit the Speech Contests, Theatre Contests, or Debate Contests pages for a button/link that will take you to the online registration platform for registering. Each of those pages also will contain tutorial information on how to register. Most Middle Level contests handle registration directly through email, although some have moved to using SpeechWire; contact the host for more information (host contact information is available when clicking a particular contest in the Middle Level upcoming dates calendar.
How do Middle Level contests work?

In education circles, middle level is a universal term encompassing middle schools, junior high schools, intermediate schools/K-8 schools with grades 6-8 as the focal point for participation in forensic Speech contests. WHSFA has two progressive levels of contests we offer for middle level students:

  1. Level 1: The official festival a student participates in. S/he must earn at least two grades/scores of “A” to move on to Level 2 (receiving a commemorative certificate for that achievement. Otherwise, s/he earns a participation certificate.
  2. Level 2: The second and final official contest a student participates in. S/he must earn at least two grades/scores of “A” to receive a blue ribbon; otherwise, s/he earns a red ribbon.

Any given student can only participate in one official Level 1 and one official Level 2 contest per school year. Schools also may participate in invitational, or “practice” contests, which are run independently of the WHSFA, but often use the WHSFA’s contest categories, rules, and evaluation sheets. Those do not count as official, however, and there is no limit to how many a school may participate in. Schools are not required to attend a specific contest in their geographic region, and some contests are limited in how many schools/entries they can accept, because their facilities may not accommodate everyone interested in attending. In those cases, we recommend other schools step forward to host contests as well.

What is the middle level entry limit?

There are no per-category, nor overall entry limits for Middle Level Speech, although certain festivals may have limitations on capacity in their school buildings. We do encourage schools to distribute their entries across different categories to maximize the educational experiences students receive.

How do I host a festival?

Please review the PDF handbook for your particular activity, which has a number of resources and suggestions. We also compiled a Speech Festival Manager Info page, with instructions on using the SpeechWire contest management website/software.

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).

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).

Can homeschool or online school students participate?

Homeschool students may either participate with an area public or private school,** or as part of a homeschool association that joins the WHSFA.

**WHSFA supports the local school district policy for interscholastic athletics/academic contests. For example, if a home-schooled student is allowed to join the basketball team, a home-schooled student may participate in Theatre, Speech, and Debate activities.

Here is the official policy from the WHSFA’s Constitution/Bylaws:

SECTION III: Membership

Wisconsin homeschooled/online/virtual school students:

  1. Conditions: Students must be members of a homeschool association or enrolled full time in an online school. They cannot participate individually, unless as part of their attendance-area school district, if the school district allows participation.
  2. Procedures:
    1. Homeschooling associations may apply for membership by registering and paying the yearly dues. Online/virtual schools headquartered in Wisconsin may apply under the same conditions.
    2. As members, their students are eligible to participate in all WHSFA events in the District/Section where the homeschool association is located. Students living in Wisconsin who are enrolled in online/virtual schools that are members of WHSFA may participate in the subdistrict and district festivals in which the online/virtual school is located.

Festival Hosts/Managers

WHSFA provides SpeechWire — online registration, scheduling, and tabulation software — free for official festivals.