Congratulations to the Class of 2024!

Seniors Pose with Medals

Advice to the next generation from 10 great debaters

We are proud of our 2024 graduates. The class of 2024 spent the first half of their high school career online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re so glad that these students made time for debate during tumultuous times. Some of them learned to debate completely virtually. Some are already sharing their skills with the next generation as coaches. Others served our debate community through different forms of leadership. We want to give an extra shout out to Audrey Snowbeck and Rey Siasoco, who served on our inaugural Student Leadership Team to improve programming. Check out these students’ future plans, memories in debate, and advice to the next generation!

Abdihafid Mohamed – Edison High School

Abdi Mohamed photo

Abdi Mohamed participated in MSHSL Debate at Edison High School, making the State debate tournament and participating in the MNUDL Mayors Challenge in September 2023. He reflected on his experience as a 2024 “Class of COVID” graduate on at the MinnPost. He shared the following advice for students entering high school:

“Do everything and anything when you have the opportunity.”

Audrey Snowbeck – Highland Park Senior High School

Audrey Snowbeck portrait

Audrey Snowbeck competed in debate at Highland Park Middle School, and once she entered Highland Park Senior High School, she continued to compete and gave back as a coach for her old middle school team. Audrey received the Betty Richardson Memorial Scholarship and plans to study English at Middlebury College. She shared her favorite memory from debating:

My debate partner and I coached debate at Highland Middle School while we were in 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. This past year was the first time we were able to teach an entire lesson without any interruptions or questions from our middle schoolers about our personal lives! It might have been the biggest accomplishment of my high school career.

Eleanor Johnson – Central High School

Eleanor Johnson portrait

Eleanor Johnson participated in MSHSL Debate, Financial Literacy Debate, and Summer Camp as a student at Central High School in addition to serving as a coach for Middle School Debate. She plans to study economics at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and was awarded the NAUDL Debater of the Year Finalist award. Eleanor’s advice to students entering high school?

“High school is your last chance to not be an adult, so take that opportunity!”

Elodie Cummins – Highland Park Senior High School

Elodie Cummins portrait

Elodie Cummins competed in the Spanish Debate League at Highland Park. Her future plans are to take a gap year in Spain and then study at Bryn Mawr College. Reflecting on her experience in debate, she shares:

Debate is a really useful skill I would recommend to everyone! I learned that my voice is powerful and how to see different perspectives on a topic.

Franklyn Martin – North High School (District 622)

Spanish Debate Franklyn

Franklyn Martin competed in Spanish Debate League at North High School (North St. Paul). He is planning to study engineering in a bachelor’s degree program. His advice to first-year high school students is:

“Enjoy high school and if you can, join a debate league. You will learn how to develop your skills and feel free sharing your thoughts and your points of view.”

Ivy Jansen – Roosevelt Senior High School

Ivy Jansen portrait

Ivy Jansen debated at Roosevelt High School and in MSHSL Debate and Financial Literacy Debate. Ivy plans to double major in Nursing and Social Work while triple minoring in Psychology, Gerontology, and Civic Studies at the College of St. Scholastica. Ivy’s advice for new high schoolers?

Be open to new experiences! Do your own thing and stay true to yourself.

Lily St. Dennis – Highland Park Senior High School

LilY St. Dennis portrait

Lily St. Dennis competed in middle school debate and high school debate, plus coached debate for middle schoolers at Highland Park. She and her partner Audrey Snowbeck competed in the Urban Debate National Championship in Spring 2024. Lily’s advice to fellow students is:

Try debate! It can be scary, but it opens you up to new learning experiences and how to advocate for yourself! And coach middle school debate if you can – literally my best choice in policy debate was coaching! I have learned a lot and I’m so excited to see them grow!

Rey Siasoco – Edison High School

Amado Rey Siasoco

Rey Siasoco competed in middle school debate at Marcy Open School and MSHSL Debate at Edison High School. He plans to study Political Science at the University of Minnesota. Reflected on his accomplishments in debate, Rey said, “When I started virtual debate in high school of my freshman year, I was alone. Over time, we grew into a community because of the people who helped support the team.” His advice for students entering high school is:

Try as many things as you can and strive to be the person that inspires others.

Shanya Obron: Como Park Senior High School

Shanya Obron photo

Shanya Obron competed in middle school debate at Hidden River Middle School and Financial Literacy Leadership Debates at Como Park Senior High School. After earning multiple scholarships, including the Fisk Outstanding Scholars and Leadership Scholarship, she plans to study psychology at Fisk University. Shanya’s advice:

Take every year of high school seriously because it’s easier to keep up than catch up.

Sydney McGrath – Roosevelt High School

Sydney McGrath

Sydney McGrath competed in Spanish Debate League at Roosevelt High School. She plans to study Political Science, Public Health, and Spanish (minor) at Yale University. She earned the US JCI Senate Scholarship (MN and National), Elk’s Scholarship (MN and semi-finalist), was selected into the United States Senate Youth Program, and was chosen for the Effie McKerson Book Scholarship. Her advice to future high schoolers is:

Get involved in many different extracurricular to find friends and discover what you’re truly passionate about.

Did you miss your chance to respond to our senior survey? Reach out so you can be featured on this page!