National debate topic originated with AHS educator

Nicole Cornish

Toni Garrard Clay/AISD Communication Coordinator

This past November, Athens ISD announced that Nicole Cornish, the district’s dean of early college high school, was on the cusp of making a major mark on the national debate stage. Cornish put forth a monumental effort submitting for consideration a potential policy debate topic for high school students across the United States.

Athens High School is thrilled to report the National Federation of State High School Associations announced Wednesday that Cornish’s proposal — immigration — has been selected as the 2018-2019 policy debate topic throughout the United States.

“I am very honored,” said Cornish. “It has been a dream for my career to author a debate topic, and I am ecstatic that I reached it. I’m also very grateful to work for a district that is always supportive and made it possible for me to attend the national topic selection meeting.”

Each school year, students in all 50 states argue for and against a single, carefully worded topic, culminating in a national tournament. Next school year’s topic, originating from a 35-page research paper presented by Cornish, is: “Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce its restrictions on legal immigration to the United States.”

“I am incredibly proud but not surprised,” said AHS Principal Ginger Morrison. “AHS is fortunate to have such a talented woman. After [Superintendent Blake] Stiles asked us to ‘make our mark’ this year, Nicole has certainly gone above and beyond.”

Cornish won two speech and debate state titles as a student at Lindale High School. Later, while attending Baylor University, she worked as a debate coach for a nearby school. Upon graduation in 2010, she took a job at Athens High School, where she has since coached eight state champions and many more state qualifiers in speech and debate. In 2015, she was awarded her first Diamond Coach Award by the National Speech and Debate Association.