• Davidson Debate Continued from What Is Your Why?...

    Jeff Plinsky has been the debate team coach at Lawrence High School since 2005. In that time LHS has qualified 44 students for the national speech and debate tournament. Trips to the nationals and to state tournaments cost money.

    “The Davidson Fund has been an invaluable partner,” Plinsky said. “Roughly 25 percent of the students LHS has qualified for the national tournament, also qualify for free or reduced lunch. This means that those students would have been significantly burdened by the task of fund-raising, while finishing the semester and preparing for the national competition. Thanks to the Davidson Fund, our students are able to spend the month of May focused on their classes and preparation for competition.”

    While Davidson’s fund allows students to spend time emphasizing school work and debate preparation, Davidson knows the value of what students receive from being on the debate team.

    “Debate was the single-most important activity in which I participated in high school in terms of my future academic and career development,” the current president and chief operating officer of The Options Clearing Corporation in Chicago said. “The teamwork and the intensity of the competition were amazing, but most important was learning to think on your feet, to organize your thoughts into a persuasive message, and communicate cogently with your audience. Those are life-long skills.”

    Davidson said the extra-curricular programs provided by the Lawrence Pubic Schools helped him become a better person and the skills and lessons learned from these opportunities have carried over to adulthood.

    “I was a pretty introverted, nerdy kid,” he said. “Debate and Forensics and the instrumental music program got me out of my shell. Public speaking has been instrumental in my career and music has been a critical means to relieve the stress of a career on ‘Wall Street’.”

    One of the main reasons Davidson gives to the Foundation?

    “My wife Shirley Shaeffer and I strongly feel that activities which promote life-long skills should be universally accessible, irrespective of the financial wherewithal of individual families or the constrained spending priorities of the school district,” Davidson said.