PHS junior takes silver at UIL State Congress
January 13, 2022
Pflugerville High School junior Kenneth Kalu represented the Panthers this week at the UIL Congress State Tournament and came home with a runner-up finish.
This continues on recent success PHS has had in Speech & Debate events at the state level following a team state championship in Speech & Debate last May. Congress is under the Speech & Debate umbrella but is an individual event.
Kalu advanced through Tuesday’s preliminary Congress sessions to qualify for the final against 17 other finalists in 5A. He finished second with a score of 19 points from the judges, seven points behind the champion.
PHS Speech & Debate coach Ronald Hester said Kalu entered the competition poised and ready.
“I would just say that Kenneth was focused and very confident on both days. He finished first in his prelim room of 18 students and knew he would be in the mix on the final day,” Hester said. “One of his dear friends won first, and it was a special moment when they hugged one another afterward. Those moments are what UIL embodies and why I teach speech and debate.”
Congress is an individual contest in a large group setting. It models the legislative process of democracy, specifically, the United States Congress. Within this mock legislative assembly competition, contestants draft legislation (proposed laws and position statements) submitted to the tournament, and they research the docket of bills and resolutions dealing with real-world social and political policies prior to the contest to prepare their speeches.
At the tournament, students caucus in committees, deliver formal discourse on the merits and disadvantages of each piece of legislation, and vote to pass or defeat the measures they have examined. Parliamentary procedure forms structure for the discourse, and students extemporaneously respond to others’ arguments over the course of a session.