HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Paul Green, a senior at Hattiesburg High, seems like any ordinary student. He's been preparing for college, hitting the books, and working hard to keep his 4.0 GPA.
But, talk to any of his teachers and you'll see what sets him apart.
Director of Forensics at HHS, Scott Waldrop, said, "Paul is truly an exceptional student." And, one of his other mentors, Emily Seal, Hattiesburg Public Schools Theatre Director, said Paul excels by keeping up with current events. She said, "Just by Paul being driven and being smart enough to keep up with everything that's on the news stand these days has kept him, think, at the top of the debate circuit."
As it turns out, his teachers aren't the only ones who noticed his potential for success. Paul spends his time focusing on speech and debate, and has been competing nationwide in those areas since he was a freshman, and has been winning ever since. The National Forensics League recognized Paul for the Degree of Premier Distinction, the highest student degree in the Honor Society, for his work in competition, beating out 112,000 other students nationwide.
When asked how he felt when he found out about the award, "It's certainly an honor."
Green says he first gained interest in debate as an 8th grader, and now, his parents don't even want to argue with him.
He laughed, saying, "Usually they just give up. Just like, 'Ok, yeah, sure, whatever.'
The award is given to around 400 students each year, and is based on a points system for how well they compete in specific categories, ranging from speech and debate, to Congress, district, and service. Green is the first at Hattiesburg High to earn this distinction this year. And his teachers were all but surprised.
Waldrop said, "We expected him to reach that mark."
Green says he thinks part of his success comes from his somewhat obsessive attention to detail. He said, "I pay a lot of attention to details, I almost obsess, you know, making sure that I try to do my best on every little piece of the debate round."
And he's not even sure he'll pursue speech or debate in college. Green wants to study engineering, and says he's not sure quite yet which school he'll head to in the fall, but whichever school he chooses, his teachers are certain he's headed for success.
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