Cupit blazing trail in speech, debate

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Brookhaven High School sophomore Maggie Cupit is a smoothtalker. She has awards to prove her forensic prowess, but it’s theintangibles that matter to Cupit.

“It’s fun to do, and it’s something I’m passionate about,” saidCupit. “It also helps me intellectually. I even quit cheerleadingto do it.”

Cupit is practically a prodigy for the BHS Speech and Debateteam, having already racked up 647 points in competition in onlytwo years. At a rate of a possible six points per event, and fourevents per competition, she’s blazing a trail to the top, said herforensics coach Carol Clanton.

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“She’s got the most points of all my 10th graders, and she’sdone as much in two years as most students will do (over fouryears),” said Clanton. “She’s definitely up and coming.”

Clanton has a few accolades herself, having coached a forensicsteam every year for 21 years. She was recently awarded the seconddiamond in her pin from the National Forensics League, havingattained a total of 4,524 points as of December. Teachers are givenone tenth of a point for every point earned by their students.

Clanton will receive special recognition at the LincolnFinancial Group/NFL National Tournament, which will be held inWichita, Kan. And getting there has been and will be quite achallenge for both teacher and student.

Cupit is more than happy to do the work, win the awards and makeher way to the top. From the debate and speaking to the theaterevents, she has found a way to justify all the time she putsin.

Among Cupit’s many accolades are two first place awards inVarsity Poetry, a first place in debate with her partner, LeahFrances Jones, and Best Original Oratory, in which she had to writeand give a 10-minute factual persuasive speech.

“There’s nothing better than the feeling of getting a firstplace trophy,” she said. “Especially when you know that means thejudges have picked you out of 50 or 60 participants.”

Cupit is quick to give the credit to her coach, however,pointing out that Clanton has given her life guidance as well asspeaking tips.

“She’s very intelligent, and she’s a deep thinker,” said Cupit.”But the things she teaches us help us in the long run, too. She’svery inspirational.”

Clanton gives the praise right back.

“One of my favorite things about teaching is that a student’stalent goes as far as the depth of their character,” she said. “AndMaggie’s runs deep.”

Cupit, who splits her worship between St. Francis CatholicChurch and the First Baptist Church youth group, also is involvedin many diverse extracurricular activities. She’s had to eliminatesome in order to focus her attentions, but she still plays on thetennis team and writes music and poetry, as well as being anaccomplished piano player.

The sophomore will also represent BHS at this year’s HughO’Brien Leadership Conference at Mississippi College, which willjust continue to build her high school resume toward her dream ofattending an Ivy League school.

“I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was four,” said Cupit,referring to her recovery from an accident she had at that age.”Ever since then I’ve wanted to help people.”

As if she wasn’t already enough of a heroine, she also donateswhat precious little free time she has to her mother’s first gradeclass, as well as the hospital and her grandmother’s therapeutichorseback riding center.

“I’ve enjoyed acting since I was young,” she said. “I’m sure Icould go into entertainment or law, but I just want to helppeople.”