Burges Students Compete in State UIL Congressional Debate Meet

Two Burges Mustangs were among the best current-events debaters in the state after their outstanding participation in the University Interscholastic League Congressional Debate in Austin earlier this month.

Senior Emilio Posada and junior Devin Cain went head-to-head against some of the top debaters in Texas at the state competition.

“The kids get a chance to sit in a chamber of their peers and debate topics that parallel actual topics that are on the floor of Congress. Topics like immigration and federal funding,” said Burges Coach Jacklyn Ochoa. “They get the docket with all the bills and research it on their own time and make speeches to compete.”

Posada and Cain were the only EPISD students to qualify for state.

“They did very well. They did lots of research and worked very hard,” Ochoa said.

Congress is an individual contest in a large group setting, which models the legislative process of democracy. Within the mock legislative assembly competition, students draft legislation and research real-world social and political policies prior to the contest to prepare their speeches.

The state meet gave the Burges students a glimpse into the tough state competition, which they said will help other future EPISD contestants do better in future years.

“I was complimented by other coaches on their demeanor, research and their ability to handle parliamentary procedures,” Ochoa said. “They acquire a lot of knowledge and are up to date on current events, which helps them become responsible adults because they realize how the impact of these issues.”

In addition to practice after school on Tuesdays and Thursday, students spent any free time researching and learning as much as possible.

“Information is the most powerful tool we have. The more informed, the more active the youth is, especially with current events, the more good can come to our communities,” Posada said. “Being part of the debate team has opened a lot of doors for me. I’ve had people tell me that for someone my age, it’s impressive I can speak professionally in front of so many people.”

Posada has been part of the debate team all four years – something he says has impacted his outlook on life.

“It really opens a lot of doors, learning to speak and obtaining information,” he said. “I’m very grateful for everything I have learned and all these experiences.”

This is the first year Cain competes at UIL state competition.

“I was very happy to go. It was very challenging. One of the best things this year is how far we have gotten. You have to be prepared because you have to know everything and be able to back it up,” he said. “One of the biggest things I have learned is patience, but more importantly when to say things and when not to.”

Cain thinks people should stay informed, especially in today’s world where they are is a lot of information to digest.

“It’s important because it’s not really helpful if you’re in a society where no one understands what’s going,” he said. “If you understand current events and are familiar with public speaking you can talk in public with other people.”

His advice: “Always use multiple sources. If you use multiple sources that all same thing, it makes your point a lot more credible.”

Story by Alicia Chumley / Photos by Leonel Monroy