Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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March 19, 2014

Mildred Debate continues tradition, makes history

Corsicana — Students discussing current politics and foreign policy, arguing the value of life, reading from laptops at lightning speeds — it’s just another typical Saturday for the Mildred High School Speech and Debate Team.  

Mildred has a tradition of success in UIL speaking events, most notably in debate.

“Mr. Batton was the first debate coach at Mildred. The team had a lot of success under him,” said Jamey Pritchett, Mildred’s debate coach and a former student of Batton. “I know there were several state medals won in Lincoln Douglas Debate and a couple of Cross-Examination Teams reached the State Quarterfinal rounds. We have always done well, but lately the kids have been pushing it farther.”

The CX teams have been hard at work this year.

The amount of research a CX debater does on each year’s topic is comparable to that of a graduate thesis.

Starting each year in September, the team begins to compete in Invitational Tournaments. Cole Dulworth, a junior, has been extremely successful bringing home five medals and a top speaker award. Freshman Danny Smith has won four medals. Senior Nick Stone has brought home two medals and a top speaker award, and Molly Gaines, a senior, has won three medals. At the Invitational Tournaments, Mildred debaters compete against all size schools from 1A to 5A. For a small 2A school, their success is tremendous.

Placing at some of these Invitational Tournaments qualified them to compete in the Northeast Texas Debate Association Championship Tournament (NTDA). NTDA was organized to recognize the outstanding competition that comes from the East Texas area. At the Championship Tournament, students are competing for scholarships that go with the top three places in each event. Dulworth and Stone were eligible to compete and won third place and each received $100.

At their UIL District 14AA CX Meet in February, Mildred won the overall championship with seniors Kati Haffner and Maddison Murrell winning second place and Dulworth and Smith taking first. Dulworth was also awarded the Top Speaker Award. Mildred has dominated their UIL CX District the last four years.

The teams were then eligible to compete in the University Interscholastic League’s State CX Debate Meet during spring break March 9 to 11. Dulworth and Stone went undefeated on the first day of competition beating teams from Alpine, Vanderbilt Industrial, Big Sandy Harmony, and Houston Academy of International Studies. Their perfect record and high speaker points advanced them to the Octafinal round for the second day of competition. They then hit a team from Blanco and won all three judges’ ballots. They went on to debate a Clifton team and again won all three ballots. Ultimately, they lost to Salado in the semifinal round on a split decision from the judges. This earned them bronze medals and the third place UIL State title.

The team also competed in the Yellow Rose District of the National Speech and Debate Association (formerly known as the National Forensics League). Dulworth and Stone defeated teams from Godley, Atlanta, Princeton, and Waco Midway. They made school history and qualified for the National Tournament that will be held in Overland Park, Kansas in June. Less than 30 teams from Texas have qualified to attend the National Tournament. There they will compete against teams from all across the country. The students will be holding several fundraising events for this trip.

“One thing that makes Mildred students’ success so great is that we don’t have a Speech and Debate class like most competitive schools,” Pritchett said. “These kids are not only giving up their Saturdays to compete, but they are also giving up any free time they might have between school, homework, athletics, and band to compile research and refine their speaking skills.”

The team is now gearing up for the UIL Individual Event District contest. They will compete against students from Buffalo, Rice, Reisel, and Teague. With some of these schools recently adding Speech and Debate classes, Mildred’s debaters have their work cut out for them but still hopes to come out on top.

“Even if we aren’t able to win the overall speech team at district, I feel like we will still send students to the state finals.” Pritchett said, “I am extremely proud of all the kids involved and not just because of their accomplishments. Debate teaches them critical thinking and communication skills that many students never learn. Public speaking is an invaluable skill that most people fear more than death. These kids are doing for fun what most people fear more than death. That’s saying a lot.”

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