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.

21st Century youth attend leadership camp


Senator Hank Sanders leads discussion on leadership traits with participants
at 21st Century’s Youth Leadership Development Winter camp.


L to R: Harambe participants at 21C Winter Leadership Camp held at the Selma Center for Non violence, Truth and Reconcilliation. Justine Morton, Akeem Hardy, Alphonzo Morton, IV, Ivan Peebles, Alphonzo Morton, III, Destiny Dancy, Jamia Jackson, Carol Zippert, Daijah Means.

Approximately 40 students, representing five counties, participated in the annual 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement Winter Camp in Selma, AL, December 2-4, 2016. The week end activities opened on Friday evening with the usual pep rally of freedom and leadership songs composed over the years by 21C founder, Attorney Faya Rose Toure.
This was followed by a special presentation by Mrs. Annie Pearl Avery on her coming of age and continuing activities in the Civil Rights and Freedom Movement.

Mrs. Avery, a former SNCC worker, held engaging exchanges with the students who were in awe of the risks she and so many others took in the struggles across the South.
Saturday’s activities included Mindful Movements led by April Caddell, Co-Coordinator of the Winter Camp. April also led a session on Mindfulness is a Super Power. A core session on leadership traits was presented by Senator Hank Sanders, utilizing the leadership strategies in the story of Gideon from the Bible.
The students viewed a documentary, entitled 13th, on the prison industrial system produced by Ava Duvernay. The following discussion was led by Alphonzo Morton, III, Camp Co-Coordinator. The film brought out how the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution condones the slavery of persons incarcerated. Slave labor of convicted felons became a big enterprise in this country.
Pep rallies with original 21C songs were inserted throughout the day, which was capped off with a trip to the movies for entertainment. All camp participants, students and adults, enjoyed Almost Christmas at the Walton Theater in Selma.
The week end camp closed out by noon on Sunday with a Takeaway Session where the young people shared their experiences and leadership lessons learned.
21st Century Youth Leadership Movement was founded in 1986 as a non profit organization dedicated to developing young people as community directed leaders. The various county chapters are led by volunteers who are committed to the vision and goals of the organization.