Brainerd High School junior Carmen Cummings won sections, broke into the state quarterfinals and won her way to nationals in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
Her achievements won her the Fine Arts Student of the Week honor.
Cummings joined the Lincoln-Douglas debate team as an eighth-grader because her older sister was in debate. In fact, her sister was the first Brainerd High School Lincoln-Douglas debate student to debate in nationals.
When Cummings first joined debate, she did not know a lot about the activity. After a year, Cummings enjoyed it. She liked the people and she liked learning about different topics in the world.
"It was interesting," said Cummings. "I became more knowledgeable about the things around me."
Art focus: Debate
Art activities: Debate, speech, choir and Student Congress
Favorite subjects: Advanced Placement language and composition
Most memorable fine arts achievement: Being named a state quarterfinalist in the state debate competition
Artist most admired: Brunelleschi
Favorite movie: "Chasing Amy"
Favorite TV program: "Alias"
Favorite song: "Big Yellow Taxi" by Counting Crows
Parents: Jan and Wayne Cummings of Brainerd
Cummings knew right away she wanted to debate in Lincoln-Douglas, not policy debate. She said Lincoln-Douglas has a more philosophical aspect to it and appealed to her more. She said policy debate is more evidence-based, which did not interest her.
Policy debate features two people on a team, and Cummings said she wouldn't like having to rely on another student, and vice versa.
Cummings did not compete in all the debate meets this season. She did not have time because she was involved in tennis and her family was hosting a foreign exchange student with whom she wanted to spend time.
Cummings placed in tournaments in Watertown and St. Francis and won the section tournament, which was hosted in Brainerd. She broke into the quarterfinals at state, which earned her a trip to the National Forensic League Qualifying Tournament. Nationals will be held in June in Salt Lake City. She and another Brainerd student qualified.
When asked if she ever thought she would go this far in debate, Cummings said, "We lost a lot of people in our sections so I thought it could be a possibility. ... I was pretty sure I'd make state."
For sections and the state tournament, Cummings' debate topic was that the government's obligation to the environment ought to take precedence over its obligation to promote economic development.
Cummings said two years ago the debate topic was similar. She said a few of the students had mixed feelings about the topic.
"I really did not want to do it again," she said. "But you do the research because there is nothing you can do about it. But I really do like the topic. It convinced me to take economics so I can learn about other countries' economic development."
The topic of debate at nationals will not be known until a few weeks before the tournament. At this time, Cummings said she is not sure if she will make it to nationals. She will be in Germany from mid-April through July to stay with a family there. She said she is not sure if she'll have the money for an airline ticket to come back for the tournament for a week.
What makes Cummings a strong debater is the research she compiles. She said she is good at getting all the information on the topic and getting the information from all angles. She said she needs to work on speaking more slowly.
Being in debate has helped Cummings learn more about the world and be more informed on issues. After high school, Cummings would like to attend college to major in political science or German. She said her ultimate dream career would be to be a lawyer for Deutsch Bank, one of the largest banks in the world located in Germany.
Chase Vreeland, senior, art: Vreeland's art adviser said, "Chase is a prolific painter who is never at a loss for ideas. His work is abstract and very colorful. Chase has a recognizable style, which invites the viewer in for a closer look and then challenges their mind with questions."
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