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Great Debaters
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Champions: Piedmont Academy’s debate team recently captured its 14th State Championship title with a perfect record of 8-0 during the Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) State AA tournament at Mercer University.

Piedmont students Matt Sessions and Trevor Wilson made up one team while and Davis Kimball and Rhett Roberts made up another team. Their task in rounds against the teams from other schools was to support this year’s national debate topic on whether the U.S. Federal government should substantially increase alternative energy incentives in the United States. Specifically, Sessions and Wilson advocated increasing funding for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, while Kimball and Roberts advocated the creation of renewable portfolio standards for states to have at least 20 percent of their energy produced by wind, solar, biomass, or geothermal power by the year 2020.

The tournament included two days of competition with four preliminary rounds. The Piedmont teams finished the preliminary rounds with perfect records of 4-0, while the next closest team from David Emanuel had a record of 2-2. Both Piedmont teams finished as the top two seeded teams from the preliminary rounds, eliminating the need for a final round, and were named co-champions of the tournament.

After the four preliminary rounds, Dr. Kevin Cummings of Mercer University announced the top five speakers, which included J.R. Whetsell from David Emanuel as fifth place speaker; Matt Sessions, fourth; Rhett Roberts, third; Trevor Wilson, second; and Davis Kimball, first.

The victory marks the sixth straight debate state championship for Piedmont, and Sessions and Wilson have been a part of four of those five consecutive titles. They began debating in the eighth grade where they served as alternates for the region and state debate competitions. Roberts makes his second appearance on a state championship team, while this is a first for Kimball. The team also has two alternates, Carl Gonsalves-Barreiro and Matthew O’Brien. This year’s team was coached by Ms. Bobbi Sauls and received support from Kaye and Lee Sessions, Missy and John Braden, Jo Ellen Kimball, and Julie Gramzinski.