Douglas County senior to debate on world stage
CASTLE ROCK – A speech and debate captain from Douglas County High School will be representing the Douglas County School District in two big speech and debate competitions this summer, including the 2015 USA World Schools Debate Invitational.
Jessica Laury was one of 10 students to be chosen to represent Colorado at the Invitational, which is organized by the National Speech & Debate Association and will be held in Dallas, Texas, June 14-19.
She also earned a place at the FBLA National Leadership Conference in Chicago, with her recent first-place finish in the Client Services division at the FBLA state competition in Vail. Additionally, last summer, Laury earned a gold medal at the FCCLA Nationals in San Antonio.
This is the third year of the USA World Schools Debate Invitational and Laury says she is looking forward to competing on the world stage at the invitational.
“It is a nice way to be able to compete with different people from different countries and be out there,” Laury said. “Last year the finalist was Singapore.”
The Invitational features six rounds of competition, featuring both prepared and impromptu motions, with a mix of teams from the United States and around the world. Teams are then selected for elimination debates, which eventually culminate in a final round, which is held before a large crowd of attendees.
Laury, who hasn’t met her team yet, says she is not nervous about the competition.
“I don’t usually get nervous until after I get done competing. I’m not nervous yet,” Laury explained. “Leading up to it, you can always do more. You can always practice and prep, but once it is over—it is over. You lose complete control and it is no longer in your hands. That is what makes me nervous.”
Over the next month and a half, she will have an opportunity to work with her teammates from Colorado. The 10 students from Colorado will be broken into two teams. Only three of the five students in each group will actually speak during the event.
Last year, the topic of debate was the use of drones in a non-declared war space, in the fight against terrorism. While this year’s topic is yet to be announced, Laury says she enjoys the process of becoming knowledgeable about a subject.
"I really like being able to advocate for my opinions in a way that is intelligent and educated, rather than standing firmly on my own opinions and nothing else,” Laury said.
In speech and debate, she says she most enjoys the Congress event.
“They cram 20 people who are highly educated on a group of topics into a room and we go through a docket,” Laury explained. “I always come out feeling smart, because I understand what is going on in our world today.”
Similarly, during the national FBLA competition, scheduled June 29–July 2, Laury will work to educate herself, but this time on the policies of a fictitious company. After only 10 minutes of prep she will have five minutes to fix a customer’s problem.
“Usually they’re not happy, because usually you have done something wrong,” Laury explained. “My mom takes claims for an insurance company, so I have a little background on how she keeps her patience.”
She always looks for a way to stand out.
“I try to think of, ‘ what can I do that no one else will think of.’ Usually it is something like, ‘I can offer you free shipping,’ if I work for a book publisher,” Laury said.
After the busy summer, Laury plans to attend William and Mary College in Virginia.