For most graduating seniors, the beginning of May signifies things they've accomplished, and the start of something completely unfamiliar. But for the speech and debate students at Oak Grove High School, they're taking something with them most kids aren't. These students are not only prepared for college, but have the stack of awards to prove it.
Going through the list of awards they've won this year, the forensics students listed, "Individual all around for state, winning the Barkley Forum, I'm a national qualifier for extemporaneous speaking, we've won a couple of national tournaments, Mississippi District student of the year..."
The forensics team at Oak Grove is full of standout students. Whether they excel in public speaking, debate, or dramatic interpretation, this year, they've excelled in one thing. Winning. Director of forensics, Shane Cole, says he's gratified with this group's accolades. Cole said, "the group of seniors that I have this year, a group that I've had since they were freshmen, watched them come all the way through, it's been nice to see them make it all the way through."
Cole said pushing the students to do their best is his main motivator, and Steven Wild, a state debate champ and Salutatorian, said his experiences in forensics has helped him prepare for college by sparking an interest in political science and sparking a little more nerve in front of people. Wild said, "It's made me more confident with presenting myself to others with speaking in front of groups, with communicating a point, with arguing a point."
But he's not the only one, all of the seniors on the forensics team have won multiple awards, and some even passed up the more conventional high school teams to do it. Daniel Rigel said, "I was actually on the football team, but I gave it up to help me to focus more on speech and debate and also the theatre department."
And for him, it's paid off. Rigel was named 2011 Mississippi Speech and Debate Student of the Year and will go on to represent Mississippi in the national competition.
He said, "I really enjoyed winning those awards, not just for me, but because I got to represent my school, and it was really just a lot of fun showing that my hard work has finally paid off."
Coach Shane Cole couldn't be prouder of his speech and debate team as he prepares them for nationals, and it was clear that each of these kids will go on to do great things after high school, wherever they may end up. The list of preferred schools goes from Ole Miss, to Mississippi State, to Xavier, to Cornell.