Two Tiftarea students have placed among the top four debate team duos in Georgia. Junior Erin Asbury and freshman Mary Kathryn Howard competed in a state championship tournament hosted by the Georgia Independent Schools Association Jan. 18. Their topic of debate was “Resolved: Immigration reform should include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.” They debated on the negative side twice and three times on the affirmative side.
Asbury and Howard won three of their four preliminary rounds and unseated the top-seeded, undefeated Westminster debate pair in their fourth round. They went on to compete in a semi-final round, which included the top four teams in the state championship, and lost on an extremely close 2-1 decision before a panel of three expert judges.
Howard and Asbury were recognized in an award ceremony with a semi-finalist trophy and were also awarded separate speaking awards for their excellent oratory. The young women were consistently given near-perfect speaking points by each of their judges in their debate, with neither one dropping below a 28 out of 30 speaking points. Asbury was recognized as the third best speaker in the tournament and Howard as the fourth, out of 26 students vying for top speaker awards.
The students will have the opportunity to win titles in at least three more tournaments this semester. Tiftarea Academy’s debate team is in its fourth month of competition since its formation in early October, and is coached by Lindsey Hancock.