The North Lamar High School Speech and Debate Team swept the Region 8 UIL Student Congress competition on Thursday, November 11, taking the top four places in the 4A division and advancing three students to the state competition, which will be held at the state capitol in January.
The UIL Student Congress competition models the legislative process of democracy, specifically, the United States Congress. Contestants draft legislation, which is then submitted to the tournament, and research the docket of bills and resolutions dealing with real-world social and political policies to prepare their speeches. At the tournament, students caucus in committees, deliver speeches on the merits and disadvantages of each piece of legislation and vote to pass or defeat the measures they have examined.
Legislation on the docket for this contest included banning private prisons, protecting the income of cancer patients, increasing funding for disaster relief, student loan forgiveness and Title 1 funding. Students are ranked based on the quality of their speeches, their ability to clash with legislators who oppose them and their ability to work with other members of the chamber. Students may also serve as Presiding Officer, the Student Congress equivalent of Speaker of the House, charged with maintaining order and ensuring that parliamentary procedure is followed correctly.
Advancing to the state competition are Hunter Steelman in first place, Hannah Miner in second place and Tyler Travis in 3rd place. Layla Shafiq, who placed fourth, is alternate to state. Also competing for North Lamar was Robert Collins, who placed ninth. Hannah Miner was also named Top Presiding Officer for 4A.
Kristi Hodgkiss is North Lamar’s Speech and Debate program’s coach.