MPSHome Alumni Calendar Contact
Tiger News
South Student Wins National Debate Tournment


South student wins national debate tournament

MINNEAPOLIS –Lillie Ouellette-Howitz, a senior at South High, was named debate champion and took first place in public speaking at the George W. Bush Institute’s annual national high school economic debate competition in Dallas, Texas.

Former President George W. Bush congratulated Lillie on her win, in which she successfully argued that Mexico would benefit from the privatization of the country’s energy sector. Lillie’s affirmative position hinged on empirical examples of countries that had successfully privatized energy, such as Brazil and Norway. According to the Dallas Morning News, President Bush said the subject was “fascinating” and “required a lot of critical thinking.” Lillie and her opponent had 30 minutes to prepare for the debate.

“This was the most exciting tournament I have ever won, especially with the scholarship opportunities,” said Lillie, who has won numerous local and state public speaking and debate titles. “My coaches from Urban Debate League and my mentors were all posting comments on my Facebook wall and sending me emails congratulating me.”

Lillie, who has been competing in debate since her freshman year at South, said meeting former President Bush was a truly memorable experience.

“It was crazy to meet the former president because he was the president I grew up watching on TV and listening to for eight years,” Lillie said. “Then he was there standing in front of me, shaking my hand. It was a really cool, crazy experience.”

Lillie’s MN Urban Debate League teammates also scored well at the competition. The tournament included more than 100 students from Milwaukee, Baltimore, New England and Dallas. Trace Thompson, a junior at South, was a quarterfinalist in the debate competition. Additionally, Chris Oquist, sophomore at Roosevelt High School was also a quarterfinalist in debate and received a 10th-place speaking award.

All contestants who reached the elimination rounds are eligible for scholarships up to $20,000.

About MPS

Minneapolis Public Schools promises an inspirational education experience in a safe, welcoming environment for all diverse learners to acquire the tools and skills necessary to confidently engage in the global community. For more information, visit