McDonogh's Oratory Program begins in Middle School and continues in sophomore year as students learn the art of speechwriting and public speaking. In fifth and sixth grade, students focus on projection and expression while seventh and eighth graders are given freedom in style and genre, resulting in a blend of personal narrative, persuasive, and humorous insight speeches. In the Sophomore Oratory Program, tenth graders select and research a topic of importance to them and spend hours crafting a six-minute persuasive speech. The students deliver their speeches publicly for the first time during their English classes, and their peers select one orator from each class to advance to the semifinals. During the semifinal round, judges evaluate the classroom winners based on the quality of their arguments and the style of their delivery. Five finalists and the master of ceremonies are chosen from this group.