Caddo Magnet High School debate team juniors Eleanora Lawrence and Austin Kiihnl
have taken top national honors at the prestigious University of Michigan Juniors Round Robin
held on October 30-31 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Each year, only the most elite junior debaters
from around the nation compete–eight teams out of all the high schools in the country!
Lawrence and Kiihnl were scouted by University of Michigan head coach Aaron Kall last
year when they placed 2nd at the Sophomore Round Robin Showcase. This, coupled with their
9th place win at the National Speech and Debate Association Championship held over the
summer, earned them a personal invitation to the tournament from Mr. Kall.
Preparing for tournaments involves substantial research and discussion on both foreign
policy and domestic politics. The high school policy debate topic for the 2019-2020 season is
whether or not the United States should reduce arms sales to foreign countries. For Lawrence and
Kiihnl, intensive research as well as strategic preparation for debating against each of the other
seven teams paid off.
In the last round of the competition, Kiihnl and Lawrence were victorious in their debate
against an excellent team from Lexington, Massachusetts. According to Lawrence, “The best
moment was the moment when they announced the second place. We felt pretty confident that
we had beaten that team, so at that point, we looked at each other and realized that we were
probably going to win.”
This is the first time in over fifteen years that Caddo Magnet has won first place at this
elite tournament. Eleanora Lawrence also won first place in the overall individual speaker
awards, with Austin Kiihnl taking the 5th highest individual speaker award. Now the pair arebeing scouted by several universities and will be well placed to compete for a $7,000 scholarship
for the University of Michigan debate camp this coming summer.
The Caddo Magnet High School debate team is coached by Kasi McCartney, with
veteran coach Neill Normand and many Caddo Magnet debate team alumni also assisting.
Story by Leslye Gilchrist