What is Cogito Debate?
Cogito Debate is a WASC accredited Speech and Debate School in Irvine, California. Cogito Debate offers a variety of courses tailored to elementary, middle and high students that significantly help them become independent thinkers, strong speakers, and confident leaders through instruction in public speaking, parliamentary debate, and reading and writing. Our knowledgeable staff and professional coaches make Cogito Debate a preferred, valued vendor with top charter schools and homeschool parents throughout Southern California.


Our coaches are experienced, passionate and skilled in elevating the communication skills of students through speech and debate.
Director of Administration

Alex Kim is a coach and the Director of Administration of Cogito Debate. Ms. Kim teaches the introductory and intermediate levels of Parliamentary Debate, and specializes in Impromptu Speaking. She is currently attending Irvine Valley College to continue her education on top of managing Cogito Debate. Ms. Kim has been coaching classes for Cogito for 3 years and has served as the Director of Administration for over a year now. She enjoys and loves working with students and making all sorts of speech and debate classes possible for everyone!

Director of Debate

Kristina Rietveld is the Director of Debate of Cogito Debate and has been coaching our competitive club teams for years. Mrs. Rietveld holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies with a Minor in Public Relations from Cal State University Long Beach and a DRPA Mediation Certification, and is currently pursuing her Masters Degree at Cal State University Fullerton. Mrs. Rietveld started competing in speech and debate at the college level when she was 16 and fell in love with it immediately. She has won numerous awards competing at the state and national level in American Parliamentary Debate, British Parliamentary Debate, and International Public Debate (IPDA) as well as in Extemporaneous Speaking, Impromptu Speaking and Informative Speaking. As one of the founding coaches of Cogito, she is excited to see the program grow!


Forrest Fulgenzi holds Bachelor Degrees in both Neuroscience and Economics from Pitzer College and has over eight years of coaching and direct debate experience, having won awards competing at both local and national levels of debate. He specializes in Policy Debate and Lincoln Douglas Debate and has a passion for research and education. Mr. Fulgenzi enjoys working with students and teaching them the importance of research as well as debate theory and strategy.


Ms. Swartwood is currently attending University of California San Diego. She has a broad range of experience in competitive debate and public speaking as well as in coaching the youth. Ms. Swartwood’s expertise is in parliamentary and policy debate as well as in extemporaneous speech, expository speech, and humorous interpretation.


Conrad Celestino is currently attending Orange Coast College and is on track to obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. Mr. Celestino has been teaching classes at Cogito Debate since Spring 2021 and has been actively coaching during the summer and will continue in the fall. Aside from teaching speech and debate, Mr. Celestino has extensive experience teaching other extracurriculars, such as music theory, music production, and volleyball.


Alison Wilhelm holds a Bachelor's Degree in Education with a minor in Literary Journalism. Ms. Wilhelm has begun teaching with Cogito Debate this past spring and has been actively involved with many of our public speaking classes. Ms. Wilhelm believes that speech and debate skills are important and useful in life as they help students improve the way they communicate with one another.


Harut Kejejyan holds an Associates of Arts degree in Communication Studies from Fullerton College, and is about to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and Sociology with a minor in Political Science. Mr. Kejejyan has 4 years of teaching experience at various speech and debate institutions in Southern California. He specializes in Policy Debate and Lincoln Douglas, with 6 years of Policy Debate experience.


Fiona Truong is a current student at UC Irvine majoring in Criminology, Law, and Society with a minor in Asian American studies. Ms. Truong has several years of public speaking experience in Speech and Debate and other extracurricular activities. She has competed at the state and national levels in Original Oratory and Congressional Debate. In addition, Ms. Truong has had experience in teaching students through youth educational programs.


Brett Boelkens is a junior civil engineering student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and is the Director of Research and Publishing at Kankee Briefs. Throughout his time in a collegiate and high school debate, he has competed for 4+ years, with a focus on Lincoln-Douglas and Policy Debate. In his free time, Mr. Boelkens takes care of his three birds, two turtles, and his cat named Zombie. He believes that competitive debate helps foster public speaking skills, as well as the ability to research and think critically about arguments and evidence.


Ray Smith has been teaching Public Speaking, Spanish, and Drama since 2005, and was a high school speech and debate coach from 2011-2018. In his high school years, Mr. Smith competed in Policy Debate and Poetry/Prose. Mr. Smith believes that behind every Greta Thunberg and David Hogg and X Gonzalez there was a teacher who told them that their voice was more powerful than any armament.


Aby Flores completed her Bachelor's Degree in Biology and Neuroscience at the University of Florida, and is currently working towards her Doctorate Degree in Neuroscience at the University of California, Irvine. Ms. Flores has been with Cogito Debate since 2019, teaching public speaking courses and working on our Intramural Tournaments. Ms. Flores believes that being able to communicate effectively and confidently enriches all avenues of life, from personal to professional.


Community Provider / Coach Coordinator
Admissions Coordinator
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Main Office: (949) 838 - 6446



Improve Students Communication Skills
Engage Students in Critical Thinking
Encourage Students to Consider Different Perspectives
Enable Students to Confidently Express Themselves
Connect Students Intellectually
Prepare Students for Personal and Educational Success


Kids aspire to learn new things every day. They should be provided with all opportunities and platforms to explore and learn. Cogito Debate is a WASC accredited Speech and Debate School in Irvine, California. Over the years, we have been teaching elementary, middle, and high school students the best communication skill through various courses. Our…


Speaking is an art. The better you are at it, the better will be your prospects academically and professionally. Effective Speaking can help you achieve various milestones successfully. People pay attention only when your communication is effective enough to grab their attention. And that is indeed a challenge. Here are some essentials : Preparedness: Ahead…


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Effective communication is when the receiver can understand the message with your intent. The better we can communicate, the better our life will be. Communication plays a pivotal role. It helps us excel not only in our academics but as well help us establish a successful professional life. Good communication is an individual’s unique identity….


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All we think of Debating is it is to fight. It means an intensive discussion between opponents aiming at framing a conclusion. The conclusion is the interesting output to derive as debating skill involves two individuals or parties believing in their different views about the same subject or topic. Learning is fun if done well….


Covid, Corona being the most widely used term in recent years, its impact on the world is equally huge. Nobody had thought something like this would happen and become a common concern worldwide. With this, everything has come to a halt. Educational and coaching institutions, Commercial and Retail businesses, offices, almost everything was closed to…


Public speaking is no more career-oriented activity. We all do it at some time without formally realizing it. It could be a family function, our school debate programs, and so on. No matter how many successful public speeches you may have delivered, the next one will bring some nervousness. You have done 30, and your…


Public speaking is an activity, an assignment that comes your way at some point in your life. Either at your school, work, family occasion and so on. Public speaking is not something that everybody enjoys. Some look for a chance to grab an opportunity, and some run away from it.    Public speaking skill is…


Debate activities are a different form of communication activity that assists in developing strong command over language, Improving critical and individual thinking. It is a valuable activity. Besides, academically, it also helps in other general dealings of life. A good debater needs to have good research skills, reasoning skills, presentation skills, etc. Communication is the…


Speaking is an art. And it is acquired over a lot of practice and persistence. May it be in your school, home, debate competition, etc. Indeed, it is not what we say but how we say it. And we at cogito debate can help you master the “How” aspect with the help of various speech…


Public Speaking is a communication activity of addressing a gathering over a topic. When addressing a crowd, you mostly have 100 % attention on you.  And that can cause a lot of stress and nervousness. Public Speaking is not as easy as it sounds. Talking and Giving a speech are two different things. Speaking represents…


Public speaking is a form of art that is evolving continuously. It helps educate, inspire and express your feelings as well as be persuasive. But, still, there are a lot of people who fear speaking in public. The best way to overcome the fear of the stage is to join online speech and debate classes….


Public speaking or oratory speaking is when a person stands in front of an audience to give a speech. The occasion can be formal and also informal. Public speaking is difficult and can be a challenge for a lot of people. If you are keen to learn, you can enroll in speech and debate highschool…


Face-to-face meetings and presentations are preferred by the majority of people. But due to the pandemic, the majority of meetings and presentations are now conducted virtually. Businesses have staff that works from home and connect via Skype, Meet, or Zoom.  It has been a little unsettling and odd to many. When regular meetings and presenting…


While giving a speech, a number of people make notes to help them remember the points. But, reliance on notes affects how the presentation or speech is presented. The authenticity of the speech is affected, as you start reading your notes instead of speaking to your audience. The engagement factor is lost as your attention…


4 Ways Public Speaking Helps You In Your Career   Public speaking is considered the most valuable skill a person should possess to reach new heights in their career. Warren Buffet, the billionaire investor, who is known for his major business success stories, considers his public speaking skills his biggest investment. Buffet says that he…


The use of pause and silence is very effective in creating an interest in what you are talking about. It can be very effective when you want to emphasize a particular point in your presentation. Small pauses can give the audience some time to fully understand the points. Without the use of pauses, your speech…


It’s the end of summer debate classes. It’s been a good summer with a good amount of students attending our virtual summer debate programs. Don’t worry, our summer debate classes will be back next year in person! Our students and parents have enjoyed this year’s program. They were able to learn even though it wasn’t…


Public speaking has become an important component of your professional and personal development. Speaking in front of a group has grown rather frequently in recent years. Making a presentation to potential employers is also becoming more frequent. You may be giving a speech at a wedding, a funeral, or at school. The most essential aspect…


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Practicing is crucial before giving a online debate classes so that you are completely prepared and do not make any mistakes. You must take notes and scribble down additional signals regarding the flow of speech. There are two methods for preparing for a speech: the appropriate method and the erroneous one. Follow some of these methods…


Young adults are pressured to participate in a number of activities to grow and stay competitive in today’s fast-changing world. To that effect, communication is the key that can give them the most confidence. Speech and debate classes help them stand out and articulate their views confidently and persuasively. It helps them to think independently,…


The pandemic has forced schools and colleges across the globe to shut their doors and go virtual. All classes, exams are being conducted on either Zoom or Google Meet. The summer break is fast approaching and parents are wondering how to keep the children occupied through the vacation.  Speech and debate courses are a good…


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Effective communication is a crucial skill for every student to master. The ever-changing career landscapes and increased competition for college places and work opportunities make it even more important to equip students with effective communication skills. Technological advancements have also made communication skills a must-have for every student. Effective communication skills allow students to express…


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Cogito Debate answered the call of so many parents to bring our program to Riverside and San Diego. Our Riverside classed are offered at the Arlington Library on Tuesdays, 4:30-6:00. In San Diego we are teaching speech and debate at Miramar College on Sundays for a large school program. Students at Lowell Academy in Long…


Cogito Debate is passionate about teaching students good speaking skills! We have been offering quality, academic after school classes and tournaments in the Tustin School District at Myford, Ladera, Tustin Memorial Academy and Peters Canyon elementary schools for several years. Many students who attended our classes have gone on to take our advanced classes and…


Delivery Skills classes are short term, 6 Weeks, and are designed to introduce students to verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Students will learn about these delivery skills and have the opportunity to practice them in class and at home. Delivery Skills course utilizes: Oral Interpretation, in which students are given pieces of prose, poetry, and/or…


Cogito Debate launched its Online Lincoln-Douglas Debate class on January 21, 2020! Students meet once a week for 10 weeks for 1.5 hours. Forrest Fulgenzi will be coaching the class. He is a very passionate coach who has extensive experience in speech and debate. From coaching students, to winning tournaments as a debater, and he…


Cogito High School Debate Club is a program for students who are seeking to become part of our winning Debate Team that is dedicated to collaborating together in preparation for competitive debates. Students will sharpen their skills in a competitive environment and gain access to a unique learning experience and form new relationships with their…


Our entire team at Cogito Debate is proud to announce that we have successfully achieved full accreditation as a Supplementary Education Program by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The accreditation team reviewed the vision, mission, learning outcomes of our standards-based education program and concluded that we meet their criteria of a quality…


Cogito Debate is offering workshops for Girl Scout Cadettes to earn badges. Public Speaking Badge Workshop covers all of the steps for the badge by providing fun learning activities that help girls find their significant voices and learn effective delivery skills./li> Common Ground Badge Workshop teaches Cadettes debate and mediation skills. Argumentation techniques will be…


Cogito Debate Club members will hit the road again to participate in the Cal Lutheran Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament in Thousand Oaks. Last year the team made us so proud at the Cal Lutheran! Sam and Fiona, 7th graders, made it to the semi-final round in High School Novice Parliamentary Debate & Fiona also…




Self-confidence can be taught! At Cogito Debate we believe that by practicing the skills of speech and Debate students become more proficient which leads to self-confidence.



Cogito Debate is hiring debate coaches throughout California to join our professional coaching team! This is an excellent opportunity for individuals with relevant experience and a passion to set students on the path to becoming meaningful contributors to their communities through speech and debate.
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