Durham student, instructor inspired by Ketanji Brown Jackson's debate-team background

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- All eyes are on Capitol Hill following judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation to the Supreme Court. That includes Hillside High School student body president and drama student Omari Scott.

"Oh God, her journey does impress me. She's exactly a little bit what I want to resemble joining clubs and them building character," Scott said.

Brown Jackson is the daughter of public school educators who taught her that if she worked hard, she could be anything she wanted. She's also credited her high school debate team for shaping her. Scott can relate.

"Joining student council helped with my public speaking. I was very shy coming into Hillside but you know I'm the senior now and I'm not afraid to speak up and say my opinion on certain things," he said.

Middle College teacher and debate coach Joseph Parrish says debate teaches students invaluable skills.

"As an introduction to debate, I show my students a video clip of many famous people who have said that debate is what calls them to become who they are. For example, Oprah Winfrey," said Parrish.

He is not surprised that Brown Jackson is a former debate student and believes it is one of the most important programs a school can offer. Scott has watched many students through the years compete and come out of their shell as a result.

"Impromptu means you could be called upon at a moment's notice. I told my students there will be many times in your life you'll have to do that," said Parrish. "I know that the students that I work with and judge at these tournaments are certainly the future senators and future Supreme Court justices"
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