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Letter: Students With True Academic Grit

To the Editor:

It is hard to imagine that anyone would choose to spend his or her weekend sifting through vast amounts of information concerning the health insurance mandate, Supreme Court arguments and opinions on both sides of the issue. It is equally hard to imagine that these people are high school students who already have had a week of classes, homework and extracurricular activities. I am describing the 48 students who competed in the Vermont state debate championship at the Statehouse on March 11. They have debated Middle East foreign policy, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling on campaign finance, the federal budget crisis and China-U.S. relations. For their finale, they debated whether the U.S. government should require its citizens to have health insurance.

Representing such schools as Hanover, Hartford and Woodstock, these students aspire to go beyond the classroom and lay their academic knowledge and skills on the line in a head-to-head competition with their peers. This takes a lot of research, practice, dedication and perseverance. I like to call it true academic grit, reminiscent of the “Duke” charging across an open field, brushing aside fear and hesitation to bring justice and integrity to the world. Students with academic grit bring the same integrity to a world of polarized politics and opinions because they are able to argue both sides and create an understanding based on their own research and knowledge. I am somewhat of a pessimist, but these students give me great hope for our future.

James Dixon

Hartford High School English Teacher

Co-President Vermont Debate and Forensics League

Related

Resolved: Hanover Shines at Debate

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Montpelier — With lawmakers out of session yesterday, Hartford High School students Tesia Lewis and Joe Sweeney sat in the Ways and Means Committee room and pushed aside left behind papers and replaced them with their “pro” and “con” binders. The State House became center stage for 48 high school debaters as they competed in the Vermont Public Forum Debate …