Madison Central students compete at Harvard

Madison Central students compete at Harvard


The Madison Central Speech and Debate team still has a full slate ahead of them but over Presidents Day weekend six students got the unique opportunity to compete against some of the best teams in the country.

Director Rachel Clapper took her students to the Harvard National Speech and Debate Tournament last month at Harvard University.

The trip included some time in Boston as well as the tournament on the Harvard grounds.

“It was a lot of fun but it was very, very cold,” said Kara Mattingly, a senior who went on the trip. “It was nice to go out of state and see different teams and get feedback from different coaches.”

Seniors Walker Scott, Mattingly, and Allyson Cole brought home hardware for advancing in the competition, which included hundreds of entries from schools in 38 states.

“It is a national tournament that has been held for a really long time and was an excellent opportunity for our team to see other teams from all across the country and see how they compete and what they are doing,” Clapper said.

Scott said at this point in the debate season he has seen most of the “pieces on the circuit” and said this was a “unique experience” to see teams from other parts of the country.

“It was great to see some piece I might never get to otherwise,” Scott said.

She said some categories had as many as 250 students competing.

“The number one thing is that they learned and got better,” Clapper said, noting it helped that some of the students came home with trophies.

Cole said it was her first trip on a plane.

“I love traveling with my teammates and making memories,” She said.

At Harvard, the team enjoyed visiting with Madison Central alum Christian Gines who currently serves as President of Harvard's Speech and Debate Team and was a previous student of Clapper.

All three students said they were drawn to speech and debate by its outlet for expression.

In addition to “showing off my new suits”, Cole said she likes that she gets to talk in front of people.

“The fun part for me is the talking,” Cole said. “I can talk for days.”

Mattingly said it indulges her love of theater.

“I can cast myself in any role I want,” Mattingly said. “It is a lot of fun. You can get up there and make people laugh or cry or just feel things.”

Scott added, “It gives me the opportunity to express myself.”

It is a long season starting in September and going through June if you make it to the national competition.

“We have had a great year so far,” Scott said.

Clapper said she has already had students qualify for the National Speech and Debate Association’s tournament in Des Moines, Iowa in June and hopes to have more qualify at the March 23 qualifier in Hattiesburg.

The MHSAA State competition will be held at Milsaps College and Murrah High School in Jackson in April.

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