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Debate students compete at state

Before school was even back in session after the Christmas holidays, three debate students traveled to Austin to compete in state Congressional debate. Junior Colby Menefee, along with senior Andrea Garcia and Josalyn Taylor, qualified after sweeping the Region VI meet in November.

“I never thought I would go to state because I’m not as experienced as other debtors,” Taylor said. “But when I found out I’d placed high enough to advance, I was thrilled.”

The competitors prepped for state by writing new legislation speeches and filing news articles. One of the weekly tasks for all speech and debate students year-round is filing current events news articles so that debaters have a library of information available when they are prepping for a contest.

“We really appreciate all of the files because they really help us have all of the information we need to succeed,” Garcia said. “The more files we  have, the more speeches we can write.”

The  state meet is a two-day event that has all competitors debating for two three-and-a-half-hour sessions, one before and one after lunch. The top six debaters in each of the three rooms of 20 then advance to day two.

“Of all of the debate events, Congress is a marathon,” coach Melonie Menefee said. “Contestants aren’t speaking the whole time, but if they are going to be successful, they have to be active, listening to speeches, asking questions, and making at least three or four speeches themselves. It’s a long day.”

At state competition, Colby Menefee advanced to finals, which were held at the state Capitol. After two finals rounds, he placed eighth overall in 3A competition.

“I was excited to advance to finals and have a chance to debate in the Capitol,” Colby Menefee said. “This year, the state legislature was in session, which meant that state representatives were there, in the halls, eating in the cafeteria and having meetings. It was an interesting experience.” 

Congress is not the only competition that the three students compete in. Menefee and Garcia are debate partners in CX debate, and Taylor competes in LD.

“Competing in other events really keeps us at the top of our game for Congress time,” Garcia said. “Any public speaking is really beneficial in Congress.”

All three will compete in Congress again next month at their NSDA district meet, vying for a shot at national competition in June.

“I am always amazed at how well these students can move from contest to contest and refocus their goals from one week to the next,” Melonie Menefee said. “They use skills from one contest to prep for another, and that is a huge part of their success.”