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 EDUCATORS

OUR COACHES

Our coaches are experienced, passionate and skilled in elevating the communication skills of students through speech and debate.
ALEX KIM
Director of Administration
alexk@cogitodebate.com

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!

KRISTINA RIETVELD
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

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.

MIRANDA SWARTWOOD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

OUR ADMIN

KARINA MICHAELS
Community Provider / Coach Coordinator
karinam@cogitodebate.com
SHIRLEY CHA
Admissions Coordinator
shirleyc@cogitodebate.com
"Join the Team!" hiring

Main Office: (949) 503-9592

info@cogitodebate.com

THE COGITO PROMISE

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

COGITO NEWS

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…

09/25/2021

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…

09/15/2021

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…

08/30/2021

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…

08/15/2021

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…

07/28/2021

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…

07/27/2021

Using numbers or statistics in a speech gives the message that you are conveying a persuasive element. The data that you provide makes the message quantifiable. The numbers can be used as a part of your argument or used to help support it. The most important thing in your speech is to make sure that…

07/15/2021

Public speaking is hard, and according to many studies, it is one of the things that Americans are most frightened of. Most individuals hate public speaking, although it is now necessary for many professions. You need to make presentations in small groups or in front of large crowds at conferences. Public speaking has become an…

06/22/2021

Most of us are afraid of speaking in public forums. However, if you want to advance in your career, you need to up your game as a competent public speaker. Public speaking allows us to communicate our thoughts and ideas to others in a clear and concise manner. It also allows us to stand out…

06/15/2021

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…

05/30/2021

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,…

05/15/2021

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…

05/02/2021

Enrolling in a speech and debate course will give your child an edge over his peers, and sharpens his language skills. If your child prefers a career as a research biologist or wants to become a journalist, they would need simple and concise language skills to help them step up the ladder of their careers. …

03/22/2021

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…

03/08/2021

In today’s educational landscape, it has become increasingly challenging to prepare your child adequately for college and a future career. This year’s distance learning in many districts has been problematic for students’ motivation and the lack of available extracurricular activities has made it tough to craft a strong college application. If you are looking for…

01/21/2021

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…

03/19/2020

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…

03/19/2020

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…

03/19/2020

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…

03/19/2020

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…

03/19/2020

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…

03/14/2019

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…

03/14/2019

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…

03/14/2019

CLASS IN ACTION

BUILDING CONFIDENCE THROUGH SPEECH AND DEBATE

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.

BE PART OF THE FAMILY

BECOME A COACH

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.
Contact Us