Local student wins first place at debate nationals
by Staff Writer
A recent Cornelius graduate walked away from a speech and debate competition for home-schooled students with a national title earlier this summer.
Ethan Green, son of Maria and Jeff Green, placed first in the Lincoln-Douglas debate division of the National Christian Forensics Communication Association National Tournament in Boston, Mass., on June 18.
“It was almost surreal,” Ethan said. “I’ve had six years of competition, and it’s something that I’ve always enjoyed. I wasn’t even expecting to win. It was a great time.”
Throughout the year, Ethan advanced through the state and regional competitions to the national contest, where he went head-to-head with 73 of the association’s best debaters. Ethan specializes in Lincoln-Douglas debates, named after the series of seven debates between Republican U.S. Senate candidate Abraham Lincoln and incumbent U.S. Sen. Stephen Douglas in 1858 in Illinois. The debates place an emphasis on values instead of policy or political issues.
“It’s a very complex thing,” Ethan said. “We talk about values. We talk about what should be.”
For the national competition, Green and his competitors debated whether a government should uphold individual rights of its people or adhere to popular opinion and mob rule.
“I essentially argued that when the government doesn’t focus on individual rights, it leads them astray,” Ethan said. “When you look at Hamas (the Islamic political party governing the Gaza Strip that is classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S.) it was technically elected by the people, but it has no respect for individual rights.”
“On the other hand, you look at the American Revolution, and only 40 percent of the public supported it. Just because a movement is unpopular, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not the best thing to do.”
His mother, Maria Green, said she was surprised when, in one of his many speeches during the competition, Ethan opened with a quote from a famous doctor.
“He started with ‘A famous doctor once said…’ I’ve heard his speeches several times and couldn’t remember him beginning with a quote by a doctor,” Green said.
The famous doctor Ethan chose to quote was none other than the beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss.
“He continued with ‘People are people no matter how small.’” Green said. “The whole crowd burst into laughter, but the quote went well with the theme of his speech. One of his competitors sitting behind me leaned over and said, ‘Ethan just won nationals.’”
When not competing himself, Ethan also takes time to coach some of the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association’s other fledgling competitors. He plans to travel to Orlando, Fla. to coach at a debate camp in early August and sometimes uses Skype to help coach and mentor kids across the southeast.
“I go to different tournaments to kind of see what they do right and what they do wrong,” Ethan said. “I help them discover where their strengths are.”
In addition to his debate accomplishments, Ethan is the first high schooler to take honors level courses at a University of North Carolina system university. The National Merit Scholarship winner and Morehead-Cain Scholars Program finalist took seven honors courses at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the 11th and 12th grades.
In the fall, Ethan will don Carolina blue at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he plans to major in global studies and political science and minor in philosophy, politics and economics.