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Pell City High School’s debate team has finished at the top of the Birmingham Area Debate League, with three of its members ranking among the league’s top 10 individual speakers.
Shelby Savage was fourth in the individual rankings, while Katie Wills and Carson Bruce were ranked sixth and seventh, respectively.  All are juniors.
The team is also comprised of Bradley Bricker, Blyss Burns, Jasmine Davis, Michele Guthrie, Keara Kelley, Kylie Kerr, Randy McCoy, Breonna Oden, Paige Sandheinrich, Brandon Turner, Brennan Turner, and Rolanda Turner.
“These students have represented Pell City High School and the Pell City community with the utmost dignity, class, and respect,” said debate coach Rachel Tawbush.  “They are to be congratulated in recognition of all of their hard work and dedication.”
Team members debated in four tournaments this year in which they were required to debate affirmative and negative sides of topics in two separate rounds of Lincoln-Douglas style debates at Samford University.  This year’s topics were “Should the federal government prohibit use of animals for entertainment purposes?” and “Should Alabama ban the ability to carry concealed firearms?”
Wills, Bruce, and Savage said they were surprised by some of the things they learned while researching their debate topics.
“I learned how bad circuses are and how they treat animals,” Bruce said.  “Circus workers poke elephants with sticks and put bull hooks through their ears to lead them around.  It’s pretty bad.”
“The groups against animals for entertainment purposes are actually quite large, and they have very solid reasoning,” Wills said.  “And I learned how complicated gun laws are.”
Savage said she enjoyed researching the animal rights debate more than the firearms ban.  “Since we live in the South, it seems that everyone has a very strong opinion about what should be done about firearms.  The animal debate was much more enjoyable to discuss.”
Tawbush noted that Pell City defeated such teams as Gardendale, Pleasant Grove, Pinson, and Hewitt-Trussville during the season’s tournaments.
“Special thanks go out to all of those that reached out from the community to help the debate team, such as Sgt. Shaddix with the Pell City Police Department, St. Clair County Undersheriff Bill Murray, and District Attorney Richard Minor,” she said.


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