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HPU Student Speaker Bureau wins TIFA debate championship

SSB TIFA Spring 2017BROWNWOOD – March 3, 2017 – Howard Payne University’s Student Speaker Bureau speech and debate team recently won the debate championship at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association spring championship tournament, held at Blinn College in Bryan. Braxton Clark, senior social science global studies major from Southlake, and Isaac Sommers, senior social science jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Boerne, were the top parliamentary debate team at the tournament.

The HPU SSB team won second place overall in debate sweepstakes and second place overall sweepstakes, competing against 24 schools from Texas and Louisiana.

Clark was also named third place top speaker; Christopher Freeland, sophomore biochemistry and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Bangs, was fourth place top speaker; and Sommers was seventh place top speaker.

The debate team of Freeland and Tyler Olin, social science jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Howe, were also quarterfinalists in parliamentary debate.

“These debaters have been working extremely hard in preparation for this tournament,” said Dr. Julie Welker, head of HPU’s Department of Communication and SSB coach. “TIFA is especially difficult, as we are the only private university competing in debate against much larger state schools. I’m always impressed with our outstanding students when they win so many awards against some of the best teams in the state.”

HPU beat teams from the University of North Texas, Texas A&M University, Texas State University and others to clench the championship.

The team also began competing in International Public Debate Association style debate last year. IPDA is a one-on-one debate style that provides an opportunity for individuals to develop advocacy skills in a forum that promotes appropriate and effective communication.

Both Clark and Sommers advance to IPDA quarterfinals, and Clark was named sixth place IPDA speaker.

Also competing at the tournament in debate were Morgan Ashmore, senior communication major from Weatherford; Reagan Grisham, junior communication major from Arlington; Gabrielle McWhirter, senior theatre major from Crosbyton; Madison Neal, freshman communication major from Chandler; Isabelle Stahrfisher, freshman communication major from Fort Worth; and Haylee Williams, sophomore communication major from Bellville. Competing in individual speaking events were Grisham, McWhirter and Neal, as well as Brooklyn Britton, freshman theatre major from Brownwood; Erin Haley, sophomore communication major from Mason; and Aimee Orozco, junior communication major from Shepherd.

Sidni Kirby, instructor of communication, is the assistant coach of the team.

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Cutline: HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau recently won the debate championship at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association spring championship tournament. Left to right: Sidni Kirby, Braxton Clark, Reagan Grisham, Isabelle Stahrfisher, Gabrielle McWhirter, Morgan Ashmore, Isaac Sommers, Madison Neal, Christopher Freeland, Haylee Williams, Tyler Olin, Brooklyn Britton, Erin Haley, Aimee Orozco and Dr. Julie Welker.

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