BH Debate

Barbers Hill High School Debate teams will participate in the UIL Cross-Examination State Policy Debate Tournament March 16 and 17 in Austin. Students, from left, include Ian Morgan, Hailegh Wingo, Pamela Johnson, Lauren Willingham, Reagan Mason, and Gustavo de Toni Uchoa. The students swept district competition, winning first, second and third places.

UIL District Cross-Examination Policy Debate is a high-stakes, high-reward proposition. But Barbers Hill debaters still took home first, second, and third places in District 21-5A competition at Dayton High School in February, defeating powerhouse opponents from New Caney, Crosby, and Humble. 

This is the fourth consecutive year for Barbers Hill debaters to take first place at district.

 Team Captain senior Pamela Johnson, who will compete at state this month alongside debate partner senior Hailegh Wingo, said, “This year is sweeter than most. Our team took some disrespect from our opponents after our first tournament this year. To go to district and sweep it just shows the value of hard work over hard talk.” 

The UIL CX Policy Debate State Tournament on March 16-17 will be Johnson’s third state appearance in this event, and Wingo’s first. 

“This year has been a long, tough road,” said Wingo. “Going to state validates all of our hard work.”

Students prepare for UIL debate competitions throughout the year, performing in tournaments that span Texas. They work both in the classroom and many hours outside the classroom conducting research, preparing talking points, and practicing their public speaking skills.

Also attending the state competition will be CX Captain Lauren Willingham, senior, and Reagan Mason, senior.

“After coming up short last year, it is a big honor for Reagan and me to go to state,” said Willingham. “We’re really excited. It’s a great way to cap off our high school debate career.” 

Mason said, “Earning top seed at UIL district two years in a row was definitely an accomplishment, but qualifying for UIL State this year has given Lauren and me the opportunity to create more lifelong memories.” 

State alternates Gustavo De Toni Uchoa, junior, and Ian Morgan, senior, closed out the bracket at district to secure all three top spots for the Eagles. “I’m looking forward to my turn for state next year,” Uchoa noted. 

“Closing out District is the best way I can imagine to end my Debate career. I’m so proud of this team,” said Morgan. 

 Barbers Hill Debate teams are led by Coach Christopher Brannen.

UIL Cross-Examination Policy Debate State is held each year at the University of Texas at Austin. This year’s competition will be March 16 and 17. Rounds are open to the public. For more information, visit

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