Debate Team at Mississippi State 2018; Everyone a Winner

by Larry E. Burnette,
M. A. Social Studies  Educator Greene County High School


Debate 2018 MS.jpg

February 22-23, five members of the Greene County High School Debate Team travelled to Mississippi State University to compete against over 150 students from schools across Mississippi in the annual Mississippi State Model Security Council.
In this competition students are in two-person teams, referred to as “delegations” representing countries that are in the United Nations. Each student is required to write a resolution, based upon the views of their assigned countries and submit it to the university before being accepted and will have to defend that resolution in the competition.
Upon arrival at the university, the 150 plus students were divided into seven “panels” for competition. Each panel is equivalent to the others with students of all experience levels, grades 9-12 competing against all others in their panel. The only awards presented are for “Outstanding Delegate”, “Most Improved” (which is awarded to one inexperienced delegation in each panel that is playing a dominant role by the end of the competition) and an award based upon the written resolutions.

Unfortunately, the week before the competition, Kiah Armour became ill. On short notice, her sister Miah, who had competed at UA last year, stepped in writing and submitting a paper at the last moment that it would have been accepted. Then, with less than forty-eight hours notice, two team members dropped out. Due to the short notice, their entry fees were forfeited and their teammates left without partners. The two students without partners, Ivan Peebles and team captain Gabriel Turner could not be combined into a single team because they represented different countries. Likewise, Haley Noland, due to her previous performances had been assigned as a lone competitor but was to have a ninth-grade understudy who also failed to attend.
After two days of competition, the results were as follows:
Panel 1: Miah Armour & Alanna Robinson (9th grade) arguing the role of France; Most Improved Delegation
Panel 5: Gabriel Turner, arguing the role of the U. S., competing without a partner in a team competition, finished second in a split decision. One judge has scored her first.
Panel 5: Haley Noland (10th grade) arguing the role of the United Kingdom, received the Most Debated Resolution award for her resolution paper which she so aptly defended.
Panel 7: Ivan Peebles (10th grade) competing without a partner in a team competition, arguing the role of China; Most Improved Delegation
This concludes the Debate Team’s competition year. Gabriel Turner, Ivan Peebles, Haley Noland and Alanna Robinson participated in every single event during this school year and each attended almost all of the practice sessions and completed the required research and writing. I would like to comment that in all of the years that I have been coaching the Debate Team, I have never before worked with a core group of dedicated competitors that exceeded this one in terms of perseverance, professional manner, team work and just being a very pleasant group with which to travel.
A final note on our Debate Team’s history and impact: While we were at MS State, former debater and 2016 GCHS Alumnae Olivara Hutton joined us for lunch. Olivara came to MS State with us for this same competition in 2016 and fell in love with the university. She is now two months from completing her sophomore year with better than a 3.0 gpa, majoring in Criminal Justice.
It occurred to me to look at our past seniors who earned their chords in Debate over the past three years. There have been a total of 12. By the last word that I have received from them, each is now a successful college student. Of course, there are other factors that contributed to their success. However, through the hours of research and writing, the exposure to universities, the rigors of debate competition against the best and brightest of more affluent schools, and the self confidence that each earns as she or he realizes that they can compete at this level, their perspective is changed. In the words of former debater Philip Harmon, “There they were in their fancy suits and socks that matched. And, we were as good as they were.”
I hope to be able to schedule more events for our team next year. Your contribution would help. You may donate through the front office of Greene County High School.