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Tulsa Public Schools students advance four teams to the Sweet Sixteen at Urban Debate Middle School Nationals

Four teams of middle school students from Tulsa Public Schools competed online against teams representing urban debate leagues from Atlanta, Boston, Kansas City, Miami, New York City and Washington D.C. this weekend in the Urban Debate League Middle School National Tournament. The Tulsa Debate League teams competing were Lucas Ballinger and William Baker, Hayden Croisant and Jackson Kern, and Ania Hoefer and Hannah Moore from Thomas Edison Middle School; and Yobani Bustos and Jimmy Weatherly from Will Rogers Middle School.

All four TPS teams were among the final 16 teams, with Hayden and Jackson placing in the top 8, and Lucas and William advancing all the way to the final round! They placed second after an incredibly close, exciting debate against a team from Washington, D.C. These students and their coaches, Erin Shepherd from Edison, and Eddie Perry and Justin Daniels from Rogers, represented Tulsa Public Schools, the Tulsa Debate League and their schools with integrity and a competitive spirit that highlights the best of our students and teachers.

Edison teacher Erin Shepherd shares her thoughts on the weekend:

“In addition to being a debate coach, I am a special education teacher in the deaf education program in Tulsa Public Schools. I am thrilled at the competitive success we had this weekend. But I am equally proud of the fact that one student with cerebral palsy, Will Baker, was able to compete with his partner, Lucas, at the highest levels of this activity. Inclusion means that every child can pursue their passion. I am thankful to be a part of a team and community that share these values.”