Submitted by Dawn Parnell, Tyler ISD communications director
Four seniors from John Tyler High School became the first Tyler team to represent Texas in the 2017 National Ethics Bowl held April 7-9 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Tamia Williams, Avery Oliver, Anadja Jamison and Jaela Wideman advanced to the national meet after winning first place at the regional meet held in February at The University of Texas at Tyler.
“Winning the regional competition was huge for Tyler,” sponsor April Caldwell said. “This was the first team from our region to ever advance to nationals. These four girls have helped set the stage for building a successful program in the future.”
In Ethics Bowl competition, teams from two schools are given a scenario, or “case,” of complex ethical and philosophical dilemmas. They are given two minutes to collaborate and decide on their stance. They then have six minutes to present their stance to the judges and moderator. Each team also has an opportunity to rebut the opposing team’s stance. Cases and questions during the competition covered a broad range of topics including drone warfare, overpopulation, standing up against hateful speech, and social media use. Teams had to answer two cases in each round.
“We learned a lot from this experience,” Jaela said. “In the regional competition here at UT Tyler, we found ourselves agreeing with most of the opponents because we were from the same region. But at the national competition, we differed from a lot of views because of the teams being from various regions of the country.”
The performance of each team is judged on the basis of how clearly, articulately, and perceptively the students develop the positions they decide to take; their ability to communicate respectfully and collaboratively; and their willingness to take diverse viewpoints into account.
Four teams were in John Tyler’s competition group, including the national winner, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics from Durham, NC. The second place team, Oregon Episcopal School from Portland, was also in the group.
“We loved the North Carolina team,” Anadja said. “They were really tough to compete against, but they were also really nice and fun.”
Caldwell added, “These four girls were purposely chosen for the Ethics Team even though they did not have a background in public speaking or debate or any experience in public performance.
“They were chosen for their strong work ethic, high character, responsibility, and own codes of ethics. We knew these skills would allow them to better comprehend and prepare for the types of morality issues and questions posed in Ethics competitions.”
Avery and Tamia plan to use the skills they learned throughout the Ethics Bowl competitions later in life when they become a nurse and pediatrician respectively.
“In the medical field, you will need to be able to listen and collaborate with others even if they don’t always agree with you, in order to determine what is best for the patient,” Avery said.
“Competing in the Ethics Bowl was a great experience,” Tamia said. “As a pediatrician, there will be instances with many medical issues with diverse views, and this experience will help me in those instances.”
The John Tyler team received a tremendous amount of support and mentoring from The University of Texas at Tyler Ethics department. They received many generous donations from local organizations to help make the trip to North Carolina possible.
The 24 high schools that qualified for and competed in the 2017 National High School Ethics Bowl are Little Rock Central High School from Little Rock, AR; Stanford Online High School from Stanford, CA; Woodrow Wilson High School from Washington, D.C.; Atlantic Community High School from Delray Beach, FL; St. Petersburg High School from St. Petersburg, FL; Adlai E. Stevenson High School from Chicago, IL; Herron High School from Indianapolis, IN; Gerstell Academy from Finksburg, MD; Medford High School from Medford, MA; Wayne Memorial High School from Wayne, MI; David H. Hickman High School from Columbia, MO; Kent Place School from Summit, NJ; Syosset High School from Syosset, NY; North Rockland High School from Thiells, NY; North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics from Durham, NC; Saint Ursula Academy from Cincinnati, OH; Dove Science Academy from Oklahoma City, OK; Oregon Episcopal School from Portland, OR; Conestoga High School from Berwyn, PA; L&N STEM Academy from Knoxville, TN; John Tyler High School from Tyler, TX; Park City High School from Park City, UT; The Awty International School from Houston, TX; and Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences from Seattle, WA.
For more information on the 2017 National High School Ethics Bowl, go to http://nhseb.unc.edu/.