In 1945 Father A. Francis Coomes, a teacher at St. Louis University
High School established the Bellarmine Speech League for parochial
grade schools in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Along with a
group of dedicated student volunteers from SLUH, Father Coomes
copied and distributed public speaking materials to grade schools
in the Archdiocese.
Over sixty years later, the Bellarmine Speech League continues
to flourish. The League is organized and run by a group of 20+
volunteer board members. Participating students in grades 5-8
develop and improve their public speaking skills by memorizing
and performing material in Humorous, Serious, and Duet categories.
Students compete in three Speech Meets with teams from other
schools during the school year. Ribbons are awarded to participants
based upon the total score received from two judges.
A Final Meet with all participating schools is held at the end
of each school year. At the Final Meet, trophies are awarded
to the top 20% of participants in addition to the traditional
Every year, hundreds of dedicated volunteer coaches and judges
guide and encourage students towards their goal of becoming
a skilled public speaker. Many of the current board members,
judges, and coaches developed their love of public speaking
and performance through their own participation as students
in the Bellarmine Speech League.