PITTSBURG — Pittsburg High School Debate and Forensics students were not only recognized for their accomplishments, but also got hands-on experience Thursday during a session at the Kansas statehouse.
A month ago, state Representative Monica Murnan (D-Pittsburg) approached PHS Debate and Forensics Advisor Julie Laflen about bringing her students to Topeka to have them recognized for their accomplishments.
“This was a really, really cool thing, which was a good experience for me and the kids,” Laflen said.
The Debate and Forensics program was recognized as one of the Top 100 programs across the United States by the National Speech and Debate Association in the fall. They were the 96th in the U.S. — the standings have changed since then.
“We looked at the standings yesterday and we moved up to 76 from 96,” Laflen said.
Their standing changed by continuing to do well in competitions after receiving an acknowledgement letter in the fall.
Since Laflen’s employment at the school, the program has grown from 12 to 75 students.
“I’m just so proud of the students and what Julie has done with that program,” Murnan said in a release. “She has grown the program and made it a great experience for a diverse group of kids.
“This is what public school is about; it’s curriculum as well as extracurricular activities.”
Along with being recognized, the students had an opportunity to ask questions, listen to legislation being presented and work as pages for Murnan.
“So many times, when people think about Topeka and the work the legislature does they think it’s all about the politics,” Murnan said. “These students will be able to see how policy is connected and the daily work we do to form good policy for the state.”
Laflen said the opportunity for the students to be recognized, ask questions and have hands-on practice was a good experience.
“We are very happy to have Representative Murnan,” she said.