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Issue-oriented young achievers make debate history

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City region has a rich history of outstanding high school debate. And Wednesday evening the stars of the Kansas City Urban Debate League got awards for their terrific work this school year. Two of the students getting awards Wednesday are writing an exciting new chapter in that rich history. That's why we are saluting them as this week's Fox 4 Young Achievers.

They both started it in middle school, but for different reasons. Corey Fisher needed some extra credit to prop up his grades so he could stay in sports. For Jared Freemon, it was peer pressure -- the good kind. All of his friends were doing it. And it didn't take very long for debate to become their passion.

"I've always been very competitive," says Corey. "I hate losing. I love proving myself and proving that I'm right. So debate just kind of became the perfect form for me to do that."

"I learn so much," says Jared. "It's broadened my scope. I've learned about so many different things that I would never have learned about without debate."

As Jared and Corey made their way through high school at Lincoln Prep Academy, they became a formidable team in the Policy Debate event in Urban Debate, a brand of rapid-fire speech-making and cross-examination popular in core neighborhood schools in the metro area and nationwide.

"I bring the passionate side of debate and the emotion where Jared is very calculated," says Corey.

"We have different styles," says Jared. "And ultimately when you put those together, we have one of the best partnerships that is possible in debate."

It hasn't been at all unusual for outstanding debaters from Kansas City Public Schools to star as champions of national Urban Debate but now Corey and Jared are breaking new ground. After finishing in the top ten in the recent Urban Debate League National Tournament in Washington, D.C., Corey and Jared now are taking their exceptional talents to a new level of competition -- the National Forensic League Tournament in Birmingham, Ala., next month.

They are the first students from Lincoln in the school's long and storied history to qualify for that prestigious competition since its inception more than 80 years ago.

"And it sends a message for the whole Urban Debate League," says Debate-Kansas City Director Gabe Cook, "that kids from the city can come to district tournaments and they can win and they can qualify to the national tournament and they can compete with anyone."

Corey and Jared are eager to show the rest of the debate world just how good urban debaters from Kansas City are.

"We're not some special form of human being that's come out of the urban core," says Corey. "It's like everyone that's in it is just as capable."

"I believe it is our duty to represent our school district and be a model for all we can do," says Jared. Two champions. No debate about it.

This fall the guys will do debate in college, Corey at UMKC and Jared at Drake University.

Meantime, they could use a little extra financial boost to help them get to the National Forensic League Tournament in Birmingham, Ala., next month. They have a fundraising page on the Web -- click here to visit it.

Fox 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Monday on Fox 4 News at 8 a.m., every Wednesday on Fox 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on Fox 4 News at 5 p.m.

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