Debate students speak to Board of Education about benefits of class


Photo contributed by Joel Brown

Debate students Tommie Carnahan and Emily Taylor visit with the Commissioner of Eductation of the Arkansas Department of Education Johnny Key in September.

Seniors Emily Taylor and Tommie Carnahan joined former Debate and Forensics coach, Joel Brown, in Hot Springs, Arkansas on Sept. 25-26 to present in front of the Board of Education. Brown, after ten years of teaching, now works as a Program Advisor for State Personnel Development. According to Taylor, Brown chose the two students to help him give in-person examples of what his students have learned to do both in and out of the classroom.

“The objective [of the presentation] was to share that the projects we are assigned in Debate and Forensics are beneficial to our core classes as well,” Taylor said.

Along with a few competitions this year, the presentation was a big event for the Debate and Forensics department. Carnahan and Taylor wanted to represent their peers and class as well as they could, as well as prove the importance of what they do.

“For the performance we had to talk with the Board members about how having advocacy in our classroom has helped us grow, and how this class has improved our overall performance in school,” Carnahan said. “After having to answer a few questions, we did our performances.”

The presentation was a big deal to the Debate and Forensics department, according to Carnahan, and the biggest factor was the hope to make a good impression on the Board.

“I was very stressed about this because I knew I would be in a room with people who are important,” Carnahan said. “I also knew that this presentation for the Board was a big thing for Coach Brown, and I wanted to make sure that this went smoothly for him.”

Taylor felt similar pressure to do well for the sake of her former coach, but she didn’t think it was all nerve-wracking.

“I was mainly stressed to perform in Hot Springs,” Taylor said. “I felt a lot of pressure at first, but I ended up having a lot of fun.”

According to Carnahan, the preparation process was a long and tedious one that felt repetitive. Carnahan and Taylor wanted to make sure they had their presentation pieces down perfectly for the real deal.

“To prepare, we practiced our pieces on our own. Once we were in Hot Springs, Coach Brown ran through his presentation with us at the convention center.” Carnahan said, “Monday was the actual day of the presentation and that morning we ran through his entire presentation, ate lunch, practiced on our own again and then it was time to present.”

After the presentation, according to Carnahan, the Board members seemed impressed with the presentation as well as with Coach Brown and his students’ work.

“The Board really enjoyed it,” Carnahan said. “They were interactive during the presentation and when we were leaving we got many compliments on our way out.”

Carnahan and Taylor believe the presentation went exactly as planned, and were happy with the results.

“Overall, it was very fun and successful,” Carnahan said.