And the moment I get to Mitchell, I am greeted not just by the Corn Palace, not just by the jackalope outside the Thunderbird Lodge (though those are always welcome sights!), but by the tournament's namesake, Senator George S. McGovern. South Dakota's elder statesman opened the tournament with some recollections of his own experience as a Mitchell Kernel debater.
McGovern recalled his first experience on the debate team: Coach Bob Pierson asked young McGovern to give a ten-minute speech on that year's resolution, that the United States should adopt a unicameral legislature. New even to the term unicameral, McGovern managed barely a minute of commentary on the topic. Coach Pierson complimented the speech and proceeded to turn McGovern into a state champion debater.
That debate experience, said McGovern, was the best part of his high school education. Debate opened doors for McGovern, and he never had a job he didn't like. Debate also introduced him to his wife Eleanor: their first meeting came in a high school debate when she and her sister Ila came down from Woonsocket to beat George and his partner. (Go Woonsocket!) McGovern told the students gathered for this weekend's contest that they will never regret their experience in high school debate.
* * * * *
The students on the Mitchell Kernel debate team feel the same way about hosting the McGovern Invitational. An article on the tournament from the Mitchell HS Kernel newspaper (a fine looking high school publication!) offers the following:
Well said, Wendy!
"Having a home tournament is cool because we get to go home at the end of the day, and also because it gives Mitchell as a community the opportunity to contribute to the forensics circuit," said junior Wendy Sivik [Aaron Eggert, "Debate to Host McGovern Tournament Tomorrow," Mitchell HS Kernel, 2008.11.20].
Well said, Wendy!