Tip of Texas, RGV, Houston triumph at 2018 Texas Great Debate
The Tip of Texas team edged its Rio Grande Valley rivals to win the 2018 Texas Great Debate at Austin College in Sherman this past weekend, with Houston finishing in third place overall in the competition. Tip of Texas, winning its sixth title, last won the statewide competition in 2016, and finished second to Rio Grande Valley last year.
“My expectations were that our team was ready to compete and were going to come with a competitive attitude,” said Jorge Lee, Assistant Project Administrator Jorge Lee said of his winning team’s performance. “I wanted to see the kids try their best because they put a lot of time, effort, and work into the competition and I wanted them to execute what they had been prepared for and be happy with the results. I always told them I want you to do your best because you can’t do better than your best.”
Lee was particularly proud of the team’s accomplishment — in large part, because Tip of Texas PA Tino Villarreal consciously stepped back to let this year’s effort be largely student driven.
Thomas Edge, a member of the winning Mock Trial team from Saint Joseph Academy, said of his experience, “In the past few days, I have learned tons about my culture, I have learned to always stay confident and respectful, I have learned that competition brings the best out of people. I learned that everyone here at the Great Debate all had the same goal, and it was to come together as a Latino community.”
“In the last few days I learned that the Great Debate is not just about the competition or who is going to win; instead, it is about knowing your community and making new friends,” added Houston team member Yarselyn Flores, the 1st Place Oratory Finalist, from Challenge Early College High School.
“The Texas Great Debate offers us an opportunity to look into the modern-day views of our evolving future Latino leaders,” said NHI founder and president Ernesto Nieto. “It seems as though the term “Latinx” is unimportant and left to personal opinions of those who wish to argue the issue. However, it’s different when it comes to the continued use of ‘minorities’ and ‘people of color.’ Our young people of tomorrow appear to associate the use of these terms as being old, outdated, and counter-productive to a preferred asset view of tomorrow’s Latinos.”
As the Sherman Herald-Democrat noted in its article on the program, the students came together to tackle “the central theme of social labels and how they influence the Latino community.”
The article focused on thoughts from Austin team member Andrea Rodriguez, from St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School. As reporter Drew Smith noted:
The U.S. Latino community finds itself at the heart of many important issues, but [Rodriguez] was especially hopeful her fellow students would use the skills they developed through the Great Debate and the NHI program to improve circumstances in other Latino nations.
“The first thing that comes to mind are all of the natural disasters that are happening,” Rodriquez said. “In Guatemala, a volcano just erupted. In Puerto Rico, they had Hurricane Maria and then the earthquakes in Mexico. Really, I feel like we need to unite and offer as much help as we can to those communities.”
The event also included NHI sponsors DishLATINO interviewing students, as well as bringing back Celebración 2017 favorites Periko y Jessi for a post-finals concert.
Winners in individual categories included:
1st Place – Mariana Diaz, Saint Joseph Academy, Brownsville & Lucky Edge, Saint Joseph Academy, Brownsville (Tip of Texas)
2nd Place – Rachel Davis, TMI Episcopal, San Antonio & Noah Adams, Central Catholic HS, San Antonio (San Antonio)
All-State Leader: Emiliano Loya, Saint Joseph Academy, Brownsville (Tip of Texas)
All-State Member: Julia Alvarez, Veterans Memorial HS, Brownsville (Tip of Texas)
1st Place – Yarselyn Flores, Challenge Early College HS, Houston (Houston)
2nd Place – Rafael Valera, Saint Joseph Academy, Brownsville (Tip of Texas)
All – State: Jose Thomas Marin-Lee, Saint Joseph Academy, Brownsville (Tip of Texas)
1st Place – Luis Gomez, Cathedral HS, El Paso (El Paso)
2nd Place – Arianna Devora, Milby HS, Houston (Houston)
All – State: Sophia Villarreal, Cypress Falls HS, Houston (Houston)
1st Place – Thomas Edge, Saint Joseph Academy, Brownsville & Sebastian Herrera, Saint Joseph Academy, Brownsville (Tip of Texas)
2nd Place – Maria Renee Garza, Saint Joseph Academy, Brownsville & Ana Paola Garcia, Saint Joseph Academy, Brownsville (Tip of Texas)
All – State Attorney: Allan Samano, Saint Joseph Academy, Brownsville (Tip of Texas)
All – State Witness: Jacob Soto, South Texas Academy for Medical Professions (Tip of Texas)
1st Place: Chloe Ghaleb, Coronado HS, El Paso (El Paso)
2nd Place: Anthony Fletcher, Central Catholic HS, San Antonio (San Antonio)
3rd Place: Iñaki Romero-Garza, John Paul II HS, Plano (Dallas)
This program was made possible in part by State Farm and Winston & Strawn.