Mylan Gray of Sumner Becomes First DKC Student to Qualify for Nationals in Student Congress
Mylan Gray became the first DEBATE-Kansas City (DKC) student to qualify to the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) championships in the event of Student Congress with his first place finish in the Senate at the East Kansas district qualifier March 28th, 2015. The NSDA national championships will be held in Dallas, TX this June.
Mylan is a decorated senior at Sumner Academy who has been debating with DKC since his days at Arrowhead Middle School. In addition to Congress, Mylan has qualified to national tournaments in Policy Debate and Extemporaneous Speaking. Mylan is a gifted speaker and years of competitive speech & debate have refined his skills. But at this qualifier Mylan wanted to rely on something just as impressive, he wanted his passion to define his performance.
The event of Student Congress allows competitors to simulate the floor debate of the U.S. Congress. Students are given mock legislation in advance of competition, allowing them to research and prepare speeches over the various topics. Some students will prepare speeches on both sides of each topic, because there is not a pre-determined speaking order. Instead speakers are chosen in a fair but competitive format that can incentive taking an unpopular view. Many students are willing to defend a position that is the opposite of their own in order to gain a competitive advantage.
“In Student Congress, it is easy to flip sides and give a speech just to get more speeches in, but the best speeches come from your passion to pass legislation you really care about,” said Mylan. “When I was competing, I focused on what exactly I would advocate if this was a real Congress session on the Hill.”
Student Congress is a little peculiar in that students are supposed to role play as Representatives or Senators, where the ultimate goal is to convince the congress to pass the legislation you support. But in the Student Congress competition, victory comes from scoring points with judges. Each speech is judged by one or more scorers, along with a parliamentarian, and those scores determine the winner of the event. This will lead some competitors to focus on the panel of scorers more than their fellow members of the Student Congress.
Mylan decided to forget about the judges entirely, and to instead take his democratic role-playing seriously. “In the face of the a panel of judges, I decided to act as if they were not there, so I could direct my attention towards my peers, and it paid off.”
Mylan’s success did not come from passion alone. It also came from years of hard work and preparation. He hopes this success can show other students in DKC that with devotion to excellence they can also find success.
“Qualifying for the NSDA tournament in East Kansas means that all the other kids from DEBATE- Kansas City have the potential to do anything if they just stick with it. The preparation for qualifying at this tournament didn’t just start in the days prior to the competition, but rather in sixth grade at the all-city championship,” said Mylan Gray.
As this story was being written Mylan qualified to NSDA Nationals in another event; U.S. Extemporaneous Speaking. This is the third time Mylan has qualified in Extemporaneous Speaking from the East Kansas NSDA District Tournament. During the same tournament Sumner ninth-grader Suan Sona became the second DKC student to qualify to NSDA Nationals in Student Congress.
Sumner Academy haD an excellent district tournament by qualifying seven students to NSDA Nationals. In addition to Mylan and Suan, the following Sumner students qualified: Alex Trobough – United States Extemporaneous Speaking, Brandon Bush – Dramatic Interpretation, LaTara Demery – Original Oration and Michael Franklin – International Extemporaneous Speaking.