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Winners in Dramatic Performance pose with Dr. Brian Pugh, Executive Director, at the 2019 John C. Stennis Novice Speech and Debate Tournament at Mississippi State University on September 28, 2019.

Hundreds of students from 12 high schools in Mississippi gathered at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi, September 27-28, 2019, for the 24th Annual John C. Stennis Novice Speech & Debate Tournament.

In 1995, the Stennis Center for Public Service established the John C. Stennis Novice Speech and Debate Tournament at Mississippi State University. The unique feature of the competition is that its focus is on high school students who are new to compete in speech and debate. For many participants, this tournament is their first debate experience. The Tournament helps to develop leadership skills in students and introduces them to the value of public service.

The Tournament began with the help of Betty Whitlock, formerly of Clinton High School, and the late Billy Tate, a teacher at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, who also served as the president of the National Speech and Debate Association. Their vision was to provide an opportunity for new students in speech and debate to compete with each other before taking on more accomplished competitors.

Schools competing in the 2019 tournament were:

  • Desoto Central
  • Germantown High School
  • Hattiesburg High School
  • Jackson Preparatory School
  • Laurel Christian School
  • Murrah High School
  • Northwest Rankin High School
  • Oak Grove High School
  • Oxford High School
  • Sacred Heart Catholic High School
  • Starkville High School
  • The Mississippi School for Math and Science

The official results of the tournament can be viewed here.