MSMS Students Compete in MSU Speech Competition


Courtesy of Charlie Deaton

The MSMS Debate Team competed in the Cowbell Classic at MSU.

Aiden Leise, Staff Writer

Several MSMS students competed at the Mississippi State Cowbell Classic Speech and Debate Tournament over the weekend. The tournament was held on the MSU campus Friday and Saturday, with events spread across multiple buildings due to conflicts with a Model United Nations competition.

This is MSMS’s first year fielding a team for any debate contest in at least three years, said coach Lori Pierce, who teaches Debate I and Debate II, in addition to her French, German and Latin classes at MSMS.

On Friday night, junior Cale Upton competed in Congressional Debate, and senior Edith Marie Green competed in Prose Interpretation. It was Upton’s first tournament, and Green’s first since attending MSMS.

“This competition was really fun,” said Green, who previously competed with Oxford High School. “It’s been good to get back into speech and debate.”

On Saturday, Green also competed in Poetry Interpretation, along with senior Millie Perdue and junior Cameron Thomas. Junior Elijah Dosda also participated in Original Oratory. Perdue and Dosda have not been to competitions before this year, and Thomas had only debated. Despite his experience in previous competitions, Thomas was surprised by the atmosphere.

“Debate events are a lot more cut-throat, whereas with speech events, everyone is a lot more supportive of one another,” Thomas said. “Although it’s still pretty intense because everyone is so good.”

Meanwhile, Dosda, a multi-sport athlete, had a bit more trepidation.

“[Speech and debate] is probably the most stressful thing I’ve ever done,” Dosda said. “I’m not afraid of public speaking, but getting graded on it is scary. I was terrified of forgetting parts of my speech.”

Speech and debate events are generally based around presentation and public speaking, with different competitions utilizing different skills. Whereas debate requires on-the-spot critical thinking and a large amount of informational preparation beforehand, speech events require more creativity and expression. A majority of competitors in speech choose dramatic pieces of prose or poetry to recite due to the amount of emotional range they allow. Some, like Thomas, prefer at least slightly lighter selections.

Aiden Leise
Cameron Thomas performs poetry in the second round of the MSU Cowbell Classic.

“The first time was really shocking because I went in with two really positive poems,” Thomas said, referring to a tournament held this past fall. “Everyone else had these poems like “I want to die,” really sad kind of stuff, so I incorporated a little bit of that this time with my selections.”

Although Dosda made it to the semi-final round of his caption, no MSMS students placed in their events.