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TCCHS debate team members earn recognition at competition; Cantrell qualifies for state

Jack Cantrell

Thomas County Central High School Debate team is off to a promising start in its competition season. Members competed in The Gladiator Debates at Johns Creek High School Oct. 15-16.

Participants included Jack Cantrell, Caleb Kinneer, Mallory Bustle, Veronica Vanlandingham and McKaleigh Watson. Two students earned recognition: Caleb Kinneer and Jack Cantrell. Kinneer competed in Public Forum Debate with his partner Mallory Bustle and won an individual speaker award for sixth place (out of 24 competitors). Cantrell won first place in Extemporaneous Public Speaking.

“Extemporaneous speaking is a speaking event where students draw three current event topics from an envelope, pick one, and are given 30 minutes to prepare a seven-minute speech, using the Internet to do research,” he said. “It’s an awesome category because it forces you to think quick[ly] on your feet; you don’t have time to stress out or worry. You have to move quickly.”

He delivered three speeches that covered different topics: the refugee crisis in Europe, a new minimum global corporate tax rate, and whether or not age restrictions on adults owning guns violate the Second Amendment.

“For each of the speeches, I used the same format that I’ve used in every competition: I had a brief introduction, three main points with evidence to back it up, and a conclusion,” Cantrell said. “I felt like I had done my best work at this competition. I thought I had earned first place, so when I received the award, it felt really good.”

Cantrell qualified for the Georgia Forensics Coaches Association Varsity Speech & Debate State Championships in March 2022.

“Being able to attend the varsity state competition for extemporaneous speaking is a big honor, and I’m excited to test my skills against the best in Georgia and hopefully show I’m one of the best,” Cantrell said.

He plans to spend the months between now and the competition honing his skills.

“To prepare, I’m going to continue to be aware of current events and big news stories,” Cantrell said. “I’m going to fine-tune my format so that I make sure to be even more specific about evidence when I’m speaking.”

Coach Brian Bellamy said this was the team’s first full competition of the new season. Except for Cantrell, everyone had minimal previous experience in speech and debate competitions.

“Most events this season are virtual events, so traveling to an in-person tournament thrilled the students and helped increase the intensity and educational benefits,” Bellamy said.

The team’s next event is Nov. 12-13. Carrollton High School is the host of this online competition.

“The team will compete through a virtual video-based platform with a judge and opposing school in multiple rounds throughout a Friday night and Saturday,” Bellamy said.

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