What’s Working: Murrah High School Debate Team

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Some of the brightest minds at Murrah High School are having their voices heard on the state and even national level.

The debate team has grown from a dozen students to more than 50 in just a few years.

Think of it as academic sport. Your brain gets a whopper of a workout.

Teenagers put in long hours of research and preparation, in addition to a full class schedule, and they’re putting all that knowledge right where their mouth is.

Persuasive arguments traveling at the speed of speech.

More than 30 Mississippi high schools have debate teams.

Murrah ranks in the top 5.

They’ll talk it out with anybody in Lincoln Douglas, Policy and Public Forum.

Senior Vivek Patel elaborates, “We’ve debated about ISIS. We’ve debated about the ongoing topic of reparations for African Americans. We’ve debated about the Sahara Desert and things of that nature.”

Weighty topics to be sure.

Shondrel Ortiz adds, “You have to be able to argue both sides. Even if you don’t agree with what you are saying but, when you are saying it, you agree with it.”

Recently that conviction has paid off with a table full of individual and team awards.

Latin Teacher Micah Everson has coached the team the last few years.

He is quick to point out, “It’s not like a class where they say, ‘Take something you are interested in and research it.’ The topics get decided by the National Organization, and if we are going to debate that month, we have to debate that topic.”

Students have qualified to debate on the National level in each of the last 5 years, and that tradition seems safe for the foreseeable future.

As senior Lauren Allen succinctly points out, ” It’s really hard to find someone who says they do not love this debate community, and it’s because it gives us opportunities to discuss topics that we would never get to discuss otherwise.”

Not to mention a little bit of travel and the chance to meet many interesting people.

Support for the Mustang Debate team has been especially strong from its alumni and the Jackson community.

They pitched in to help pay for trips to Fort Lauderdale and Dallas.

Recent graduates of the Murrah Debate team have gone on to some of the most prestigious universities in America including: Harvard, Yale and MIT.


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