Mr. Speaker, the Kingwood High School Debate team has been invited to compete at the Pan American Schools Debate Championships in Vancouver, Canada on March 16th, 2016. The competition is organized by the Pan-American Debate Organization (PADO) and aims ‘‘to promote debate in the Americas, and to encourage high school students to participate in international competitions.’’

Members of Team Kingwood include Morgan Lee, junior; Reese Grayson, senior; Colette Faulkner, junior—also the designated alternate to Team USA; Connor Smith, junior; Gaurav Gawankar, junior. The team is coached by Audra and Jason Langston. These students will not only be representing their high school, but the state of Texas as well. As they enter the competition, the Texas students will face competitors representing Argentina, Bermuda, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru, USA and Venezuela. The Kingwood team will be the only team that will represent a high school, rather than a country.

The principles of open debate have long been a lifeblood to our democracy. Society is shaped every day by open conversation, public opinion and debate. The great debaters, men like Patrick Henry, Daniel Webster, and John C. Calhoun shaped American society, bringing democracy to a new born nation. Debaters like Margaret Thatcher broke barriers, improved economies, and shaped their countries’ policies for an entire generation. Great Debaters are leaders who have had an impact on our society.

These students have taken the first step towards becoming future leaders. Debate teaches students how to speak both powerfully and persuasively, fosters critical thinking, and how to defend their point of view. As a former debater, Judge and Congressman, I know that it’s important to learn how to make a point. Congratulations to the Kingwood Debate team. Good luck at the Pan American Championships.

And that is just the way it is