They live in a world of rules and regulations. But, Sioux Falls Washington High School students Katlyn Powers and Jordan Simundson would rather question a different authority.
They’ve spent their year planning for a flight of their own kind.
“This year we were talking about space exploration and development,” Powers said.
And apparently they are good at it.
The debate duo took their argument all the way to the national championships where they can now say, when it comes to policy debate, they are among the top four teams in the nation.
“Us taking fourth place was really a demonstration of the quality of competition within South Dakota that we're seeing all year,” Simundson said.
In fact, three South Dakota teams made the top ten. That means a season of debating other national-caliber teams helped the two grab a top spot.
“We competed against 22 teams just to be able to get to the national debate tournament,” debate coach Travis Dahle said.
Sure the trophies are nice, so is the chance to be recognized on a national stage.
“If they take a stance on an issue, they have to explain through reasoning and give evidence why their side is right,” Dahle said.
But the real reward for Simundson and Powers is experience that the two hope will put them light years ahead of the pack beyond high school.
“[It’s the] same research skills that get used at the college level as well as some of the communication skills we work on pretty heavily into debate,” Simundson said.
“We weren't really expecting we were ever going to go that far,” Powers said. “We hoped for it, but through time and dedication we were able to prove that we could get that far and that we had what it took to get to that level.”
Simundson graduated, but Powers will come back next year. She's planning a summer of preparation, hoping history repeats itself next year.
And next year's topic is transportation and part of Powers' preparation will include a three-week debate camp.