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North Lamar Senior Ryan Conner successfully defended his state championship in UIL Informative Speaking, earning first place for the second straight year at the University Interscholastic League State Academic Meet hosted on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.
Competing against the best in Texas 3A Informative Speaking, Conner earned first in preliminary competition on Tuesday, May 20, and earned the state championship in finals on Wednesday, May 21. This second straight state championship is the culmination of a very successful UIL speaking career for Conner who has competed on the state level for the past two years.
In those two years, he has appeared in the UIL State Cross Examination Debate Tournament, and also appeared in the UIL State Student Congress Tournament, placing second overall and earned the State Championship as the top ranked Presiding Officer in the Chamber. Conner’s speech coach at North Lamar is Kristi Hodgkiss, who coaches Informative Speaking, Persuasive Speaking, Cross Examination Debate, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, and Student Congress.
The North Lamar Literary Criticism Team, coached by Dr. Linda Winfrey, enjoyed success at the UIL State Tournament as junior Ethan Carter earned fifth place in Literary Criticism, and along with teammates junior Lindy Norris, senior Nhi Son, junior Cierra Williams, and junior Lupita Patino, earned second place team in the state.
North Lamar Speech and Debate Team members, junior Jared Chenevey, junior Seth Gurley, and senior Maddi Jolley competed very successfully at the State Tournament as well. Chenevey earned second and Gurley earned fourth place in Persuasive Speaking, and Jolley earned 3rd place in Poetry Interpretation. The North Lamar Poetry coach is Pam Tuttle.
The North Lamar Speech and Debate Team earned the 3A State Championship, racking up 61 points, which according to UIL State Director of Speech and Debate Jana Riggins “. . . dominated 3A Speech and Debate in Texas.” A portion of the 61 points earned by the team were contributed by senior Kelsey Preston and freshman Kay Edwards who earned second place in the State Cross Examination Debate Tournament in February.
North Lamar Speech and Debate Team members were further gratified because their coach, Kristi Hodgkiss, was recognized by the National Federation of High Schools as the National Speech and Debate Coach of the Year for 2013-2014. Hodgkiss was being honored for her contributions to Speech Education, which includes serving on both UIL and National Forensics League governing boards, and for her student achievements, which include earning twelve state championships. Before an audience of her peers and outstanding speech and debate students from across Texas, Hodgkiss was presented the national recognition plaque by the State Director Riggins.
Competing against 74 other 3A High School Academic Teams from the four UIL Academic Regions in Texas, the North Lamar Academic Team earned second place, completing one of the most successful state competition trips in North Lamar UIL history. The second place ranking of the North Lamar UIL Academic Team is the highest finish the team has earned at state.