First-ever Great Debate a success

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Six students earn scholarships

By Jesse Osbourne



Six Washington County High School students walked away with scholarships on Thursday night after the first Great Debate was over.

Catherine Marrinan, Sara Beth Wimsatt and Haley Wright earned scholarships from the Mattingly, Simms, Robinson and McCain law firm, as well as St. Catharine College.

They narrowly defeated Will Begley, Maegen Satterly and Erica Walker in a Lincoln-Douglas style debate by a score of 103.5 to 102. The debate was held in Pettus Auditorium at St. Catharine College on May 10.
All participants walked away with scholarship money.

The topic of the debate was, “a just government should provide health care to its citizens.”

The winning team took the affirmative position.

Though the United States isn’t specifically mentioned in the topic, the debate quickly turned into whether universal health care would work in the United States.

The team that took the negative position cited cost as one reason government-provided health care wouldn’t work.

The team supporting the affirmative argued that healthier citizens would strengthen the work force, resulting in more taxes collected from an increased number of workers.

“I am impressed with the way that students handled a complex topic,” Ryan New, a WCHS teacher who helped organize the event, said via email. “How often do high school students know about health care, let alone be able to discuss it in an intelligent way? It was moments like last night that make me proud as a teacher.”

Washington County High School Principal Paul Terrell said he thought it was a good showcase for the great thinkers at the school.

“I believe it allows students the opportunity to develop leadership skills which will benefit them throughout their lives,” Terrell said.

St. Catharine College President William Huston, who served as a judge, said he hopes the event becomes an annual occurrence.

Huston also said that St. Catharine hopes to start a debate team, with hopes of joining the National Forensics Association in the 2013-14 school year.

“The slim 1.5 point spread between the two teams shows how well they were prepared and performed,” Huston said via email.

Superintendent of Washington County Schools Robin Cochran said she was also impressed.

“I was so proud of the growth that I saw from the initial debates to the final debate,” she said via email. “It was obvious the students had grown and perfected their skills. Mr. New demonstrated his willingness to lead and impact student lives inside and outside of the classroom.”

New said in a Springfield Sun story last week that he and his wife, Andrea, want to sponsor a full-time club next year.