A brief encounter with Alexis Bylander suggests the senior's air of authority and conviction that has brought laurels to the school's debate team.
At 17, she carries herself with the confidence that comes with a razor sharp mind that's been guided by books and a speech pattern that flows like a clean, rapid stream.
In response to questions, her words seem cooked to perfection, as precise, ordered and poised as the arguments she's made over the years as a policy debater and Mock Trial witness.
Art focus: debate
Fine arts activities: Policy Debate, Mock Trial, Symphonic, Marching and Pep bands
GPA: Not telling
Favorite subject: psychology
Most memorable fine arts activity: going to state debate tournament two years running
Favorite movie: "Double Jeopardy"
Favorite TV program: "The Practice"
Favorite food: lasagna
Future plans: international relations or political science degree from Concordia College
Parents: Jeanette Rydberg of Brainerd, C.B. and Linda Bylander of Baxter
A debater for five years, Bylander and her policy debate team partner Dana Moore have advanced to state in each of the past two years, one of only six teams to repeat this year, said debate coach Doug Johnson.
Johnson nominated both girls for Fine Arts Student of the Week distinction, and Moore will be featured next week.
"Dedication is the key word to describe these talented young ladies," Johnson wrote. "Not only have they represented our school throughout the state but they have done so with great class."
A member of the National Forensic League, Bylander has reached a major milestone of achievement under the organization's rules, earning a "degree of special distinction," the highest she can go as a high school debater.
Policy debate teams argue the pros and cons of public affairs issues on both the domestic and international fields of play. Both members must be prepared to argue either side of the issue, which requires extensive research and writing.
Bylander and Moore comprise the only varsity policy debate team in the high school this year, but Bylander is working with novice teams from Franklin and Mississippi Horizons schools to keep the activity alive. She also serves as a judge in novice debate meets, she said.
Bylander said her debate experience has sparked a career interest in politics or the law. She's been accepted at Concordia College in Moorhead, where she will start next year on a degree in international relations or political science.
She's not sure whether she'll later attend law school, but, "I will be involved in politics and government somehow" in her career, she said.
"I want to make a difference but I don't see myself as standing for election to public office," Bylander said.
The fine arts element of debate, she said, "definitely has to do with public speaking and communicating your ideas to others."
"The creativity also comes in coming up with a plan of argument and organizing all the facts, putting it all together," she said.
Bylander also exercises her creativity as an instrumentalist, playing bass clarinet in the high school's Symphonic Band, as well as saxophone in the Marching and Pep bands.
Matt Cummings, junior, drama: "In addition to acting in 'The Crucible' and the one-act competition, Matt has been a director's assistant and right-hand man," his instructor wrote. "The plays went smoothly largely due to his help."
Carissa Clemens, senior, A Cappella Choir: two-year member, alto section leader, perfect score at Solo and Ensemble contest in January, named best performer at her judging site.
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