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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Four PHS students head to NFL nationals

  • Four Pittsburg High School debaters have qualifying to compete in the NFL National Speech and Debate Tournament, scheduled June 16-21, 2013, in Birmingham, Ala.



    Heading south will be Garrett Brummitt and Taylor Cronister, PHS seniors, and Ethan Hawn and Joseph Mathew, sophomores. Their debate coach is Julie Laflen.

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  • Four Pittsburg High School debaters have qualifying to compete in the NFL National Speech and Debate Tournament, scheduled June 16-21, 2013, in Birmingham, Ala.
    Heading south will be Garrett Brummitt and Taylor Cronister, PHS seniors, and Ethan Hawn and Joseph Mathew, sophomores. Their debate coach is Julie Laflen.
    PHS hosted the National Forensic League National Debate Qualifier for the South Kansas NFL District on Dec. 7 and 8, and also proceeded to dominate the event, placing first in sweepstakes with 21 wins.
    The team of Brummitt and Cronister placed first, with the team of Hawn and Mathew in second place. This qualified them for national competition.
    It will be Cronister’s second time at the national NFL event. Last year the PHS senior qualified to compete in U.S. extemporaneous oration. All the others are first-timers.
    Their debate topic, which is set by the National Forensics League at the start of the season and carries on through finals, is that the U.S federal government should substantially increase the nation’s transportation infrastructure.
    That’s a very broad area, and the debaters have been working hard at researching U.S. transportation and looking for good ideas/arguments.
    “Since last year ended we’ve been working,” Cronister said. “You start really generic, then narrow it down, take the branches you’ve been thinking of and the branches of those branches. See if it will work.”
    Sometimes it doesn’t.
    “A lot of times you think you have a really good idea, and find you’re sadly mistaken,” Hawn said.
    If/when that happens, there’s more research, more data analysis and more ideas. The debaters also did a lot of practice rounds debating each other in preparation for competition.
    “The week leading up to NFL we were all here at the school until 9 p.m. every night,” Hawn said.
    They can’t rest too much now, because they’ll need to prepare for the national event, in hopes of breaking into the top 64 teams who will be allowed to continue in competition.
    Mathew explained that those who don’t will still be busy at Birmingham because supplemental activities are planned.
    “They’re like consolation events,” he said.
    Whether they win at the national levels, the four feel they’re already winners because they have learned so much from participating in debate.
    “Learning how to do research is the best thing I think anyone can take from debate,” Cronister said. “If you can find a computer, you can find out anything.”
    He added that he has also gained valuable speaking skills from debate, and noted that he just won first place for best verbal presentation in the 10th annual PHS Business Plan Competition.
    Page 2 of 2 - Brummitt said that he can now skim over data and pick out the most important points.
    “That’s something that debate has given me,” he said.
    Brummitt said he has devoted just about every Saturday throughout his high school career to NFL activities.
    “I don’t know what I’ll do Saturdays when I’m in college,” he said. “Mrs. Laflen and I have been talking about Fort Scott Community College, which has a really good debate program, and I’ve talked to the coach there. But what I really have my eye on is MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe. It doesn’t have debate, but there are other things it offers. If I go there I’ll study youth and family ministry.”
    Cronister is interested in aeronautical engineering.
    “I was looking up aeronautical engineering programs online, and Wichita State University has the sixth best program in the nation,” he said. “I looked at the classes you need for an undergraduate degree, and I didn’t see a single one that I wouldn’t have fun in.”
    Mathew is thinking of majoring in business administration, but isn’t sure yet what his emphasis would be.
    Hawn is thinking about law or justice studies.
    “That would be a good place to use the skills I’ve developed in debate and forensics,” he said.
    In the meantime, Hawn and Mathew have their junior and senior years ahead of them, and Brummitt predicted they will continue to excel in debate.
    “They’re extremely good, and we’re very proud of them,” he said.
    “Mrs. Laflen has condensed four years of instruction into two, so Joseph and Ethan are debating at the level of four-year seniors even though they’ve only been debating two years,” Cronister said.
    Hawn also praise their coach for her skill in developing the program.
    “When we were freshmen, we had 12 debaters and now there are 37,” he said.
    “The PHS debate program is going to be fine for many years to come,” Cronister said.
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