St. Francis proved once again that its high school students are some of the best in the state with a strong showing at the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) state debate tournament.
The team of Cody Brant and Alissa Johnson capped a spectacular end-of-the-season run to finish as one of the top eight teams at the two-day tournament.
Brant and Johnson’s success culminated at the state debate tournament Jan. 18-19 at the University of Minnesota.
The duo began the tournament with four straight wins before dropping two close rounds to the eventual state champions and runners-up from St. Paul Academy.
Their 4-2 record was good enough to advance them to the tournament’s quarterfinal round as the fourth seed.
In quarterfinals, the team lost to the fifth-seeded team from Blaine.
“Cody and Alissa exceeded my greatest expectations at state,” said head coach Steven Fetzik.
“Their success is due to their hard work and determination.”
The state tournament was only one of the team’s accomplishments over the last month.
In December the pair finished fourth at the National Forensic League’s district tournament and is an alternate to this year’s national debate tournament.
Earlier in January, the pair finished with a 5-1 record en route to a second-place finish at the Section 5 Debate Tournament.
“They complement each other,” said assistant debate coach Carol Hanson.
“Alissa brings a strong oratorical style that sets the framework for the round, while Cody utilizes his background in extemporaneous speaking to respond to their opponent’s attacks.”
This year’s topic centered on the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United versus the Federal Election Commission case. The court ruled that corporations should enjoy the same free speech rights as individuals during the election process.
Brant and Johnson had to prepare cases that supported both sides of the issue.
“The topic really opened our eyes to the election process and how spending can impact how we vote,” said Brant.
Both students will graduate this year, but Fetzik is confident that next year’s team can be just as strong.
“Nothing beats dedication, a consistent work ethic and a willingness to learn,” Fetzik said.