Hersey debate team nabs third place at state tournament

John Hersey High School’s Debate team won third place runner-up in the Illinois Congressional Debate Association's state tournament in February.

"Our team is a very close-knit group, and we all share a passion for public speaking and work well together,” said junior Kelly Miller. “My favorite part of debate is watching the team grow and mapping everyone's individual successes. I also love adopting the persona of a representative in the US Congress while debating current events."

The competition was team-based, meaning the four best debaters from each school were able to compete. Hersey’s four debaters were juniors Mady Cohodes, Shannon Steines, Kelly Miller and Ethan Bowers. All four have been on the team since their freshman year.

“They’ve been very competitive for three years. They’ve been going up against the best competitors in the state for three years and it’s really paid off,” said debate coach Thomas Smith.

A number of factors went into the debate team’s success. “Beyond just those four students, we have an additional 10 students who also did the research, and came to about four hours of practice every week. They did practice speeches and asked questions. Those students [the competitors] in particular do a large portion of the research and put in a lot of time practicing,” Smith said.

The debate team’s season continues and students will compete in the IHSA Varsity State competition in Springfield from March 16 to March 18.

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