02/20/11 — GHS debate class gets chance to see tourney

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GHS debate class gets chance to see tourney

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 20, 2011 1:50 AM

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Brianna Cousins, left, and Mikal Greenfield look over notes during speech and debate class at Goldsboro High School. The course was just introduced to the curriculum this semester, and instructor Dr. Wilbur Brower took a group of students to an invitational debate tournament at Harvard this weekend to learn even more about the art.

The Goldsboro High School speech and debate class is in Washington right now, getting a chance to see what it would be like to compete in a national debate contest, thanks to the support of the community and the confidence of their teacher.

The speech and debate class was introduced at the school this semester and is being taught by Dr. Wilbur Brower.

GHS principal principal John Twitty said the class is an idea he has wanted to pursue since he came to the school. He hopes one day that what was once a classroom experience will become a full-fledged competitive debate team.

But in the meantime, students are learning communication lessons that they can use in school every day, Twitty said.

"The speech and debate class is designed to help students improve their critical thinking, research and writing skills and to build their self-confidence in their communication and oratorial skills and abilities," he said.

For his part, Brower said his focus has been to demonstrate the difference between arguing and debating. During the 90-minute block, he has divided up the students into small groups, to work on developing techniques and tackling controversial issues.

"They're very excited about debating," he said.

When he learned about the upcoming 37th annual Harvard National High School Invitational Forensics Tournament, he decided it would be a "great educational experience" for his students.

"They're going to basically observe several debate formats," Brower said. "They're going to pick up what's involved in the discipline. They'll begin to understand the various formats of debate and also interact with students from other high schools."

Although the Goldsboro High contingent will not participate in the competition, he said, the exposure to more than 3,000 high school students from around the country will be valuable.

"This educational and instructional trip will allow them to study the details and intricacies of speech and debate in real-time. While at the tournament, our debate class will attend policy debates, Lincoln-Douglas debates, public forum debates, Congressional debates and the speech tournament."

"It is exciting that within a few weeks of the class inception, participating students will have the opportunity to go to Harvard to see real world applications of the content they are learning," Twitty added. "It will be a life-changing experience for these young people."

The three-day trip to Cambridge, Massachusetts cost students and chaperones approximately $6,000, funded primarily by community support, Brower said.

The trip will be especially meaningful to Zacchia Cobb, a junior whose goal is to one day attend Harvard and study medicine.

"This is an opportunity I wouldn't miss for anything," she said. "I'm so thankful the school, along with the greater Goldsboro community, is showing their support and belief in us."

Although the students are already at the debate competition, there are funds being used for the trip that still need to be covered.

Donations to the trip fund can be made at the school or mailed to Goldsboro High School, Attn: Linda Raiford, 901 E. Beech St., Goldsboro, NC 27530. Checks should be made payable to GHS Speech and Debate Class.