Following their recent success reaching quarterfinals at the State UIL CX Debate meet in Austin — and with graduation looming in the coming weeks — Longview High School seniors Seema Brimmer and Trevor O'Connor are grateful for their education and optimistic for the future.

LHS seniors look back on UIL debate achievement

Fri Apr 15, 2016
 
Brimmer, who was named Top Speaker at the District 15-5A meet in February, said it has been thrilling to compete with and against students of such a high caliber.

"You get to hear different arguments and points of view about your topics," she said. "There are certain arguments that I've learned about, and hearing and reading the arguments from radical authors has given me perspectives that just aren't taught until you go to college."

O'Connor agreed, adding that this broadening of perspective is one of the primary purposes of education itself.

"(Debate) has taught me how to critically analyze the world and that nothing is black and white," he said. "There are two sides to every story and it takes rigorous research, critical thought, and an ability to be open-minded to truly understand the world around us."

Brimmer said her time devoted to UIL activities will only contribute to her academic ambitions.

"Public speaking doesn't bother me anymore," she said. "(This experience) has enabled me to apply these lessons to my life, not just the debate room."

A seasoned academic competitor throughout his school days, O'Connor can look back on numerous accomplishments with gratitude for how UIL has helped enhance his education experience.

"As someone who is interested in majoring in political science and government in college and later attending law school, I have gained invaluable experiences and skills from debate that I can directly apply in college and my career," he said. "Speaking clearly, synthesizing ideas, and researching is all necessary to any path someone takes in life, and I am glad to have had this opportunity from Longview High School."

Brimmer and O’Connor are no strangers to winning academic competitions. The two won the Impromptu Resolutions category at Stephen F. Austin University’s Model UN competition in 2011 – when they were Foster Middle School students. (O’Connor won Best Delegate at that same meet.) In addition to bringing home numerous awards from area and regional UIL meets, they took 12-5A’s top honors in 2014 for Cross Examination Debate.

Coached in CX Debate by LHS teacher Nicole Smith, both Brimmer and O'Connor praised the numerous instructors, mentors, and sponsors who devoted time and expertise in helping them realize their own potential.

"I am thankful for all the support and resources that I've gained from LHS and the UIL program," said O'Connor. "I hope to see it grow in the future."