• February 17, 2020

OHS student headed for Congress State tourney, theater festival - Odessa American: ECISD

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OHS student headed for Congress State tourney, theater festival

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Posted: Wednesday, January 8, 2020 12:29 pm

The tournament lasts from Jan. 13 through Jan. 15. Karis’s father, Speech, Debate and Theater teacher Aaron Cox, said his daughter is the only one from ECISD who qualified for the state proceedings.

The first two rounds will be at UT Austin. If she makes the finals, it will take place in the state capitol where legislators actually debate and using the furniture lawmakers use, Aaron Cox said.

With student congress, participants write bills and send them in. A certain amount are approved, or not. It is based on the U.S. Congress. 

“… They have to go through the writing process, the research process. They have to tell all the stuff of why this bill needs to be done, so then you get to do research … During the contest, you have legislators who get up for the bill. They talk about it, they take questioning. Then you get someone against the bill, then they get questions,” Aaron Cox said.

It’s all done in a compressed time period.  

This will be the eighth year OHS has participated in the Congress State Tournament. Aaron Cox said one of the best things he heard was that a lawmaker said the students could teach the legislators how to do their jobs.

He said there was no childishness.

“It was all about the bill, business about the bill and then moving on,” Aaron Cox said.

To qualify for the state tournament, he said you have to compete in your region in various classifications. Aaron Cox said Karis tangled with students from Lee High School in Midland and Permian High School. She came in second, sandwiched by Lee in first and third.

“It’s really odd for the students because she was competing also against 3A, but 3A didn’t have any impact on her going to state so she was still was questioned by people who (had) no impact on her going or not, so she had to be good at answering those questions. She had to be able to have the knowledge and the research that she had in her speech to be able answer questions and to support why she was for and against the bills,” Aaron Cox said.

Karis will have a chance to make nationals in speech and debate and she’ll also compete in the International Thespian Festival at Indiana University in Bloomington in June.

Aaron Cox said Karis has been able to accomplish a lot in a short period of time. He said she’s not always happy he has her work so hard, but he has all his students participate in the Congress State tournament because of the research and speaking skills it teaches.

“It gets them actually ready for the real world and it gets them ready for college. Both my daughters have made it to state congress,” Aaron Cox said. “The accomplishments never cease to amaze me that both my girls are smarter than I am — and more talented.”

His oldest daughter is Kennedi Hernandez.

He added that student congress is one of the best things teachers can give a student because it enables them to defend both sides of an argument and gives them a more well-rounded picture of the world.

For her part, Karis Cox, 17, said going to state in the congress tournament is “pretty cool.”

“I’m excited to go look at the University of Texas again, and hopefully, possibly, make it on to the finals round where you can compete at the state capitol,” Karis Cox said.

She said it is easier the second time around only because she knows how things run now, but it’s not any easier competition-wise.  

“I’ve been writing two speeches in zero hour. Then I’ll write two speeches on my lunch period and then two more speeches after school so I can get all 40 done. It’s a lot of work and a lot of them it’s pretty hard to really decide whether or not you want to affirm what exactly the bill says, or negate what the bill says,” Karis Cox said.

“… I feel like I have definitely grown as a speaker and grown as a student because I’m taking dual credit classes, so I’ve been able to better research my papers and understand exactly what’s happening in the status quo,” she added.

She’s also excited to be going to nationals in theater again.

“I made so many friends. I got to work with so many professionals. It’s going to be a really good experience to be able to go again,” Karis Cox said.

Her preference is to earn a musical theater degree in Los Angeles.

Odessa, TX

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