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South Albany junior Anthony Ross, shown here testifying in March before the state Senate Education Committee, said he plans to use his experiences in debate for a career in politics.

South Albany High School junior Anthony Ross took the first-place medal in the Student Congress portion of the 2015 OSAA Speech State Championship.

The championship was held April 23-25 at Western Oregon University in Monmouth.

Ross, 17, participated in a simulated Legislature, writing and debating various bills. Both the bills he wrote were debated and passed.

The first bill centered on expanding the 1964 Civil Rights Act to cover people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or have other gender and sexual preferences. The second would create a national holiday on the voting day for presidential and congressional elections, to make it easier for working people to get to the polls.

Ross, South Albany's student body president, is participating in speech and debate for the first time this year. He said he's been interested in competitive debate for some time and will "absolutely" be back.

Student Congress is his favorite, but he'd also like to concentrate on oratory and parliamentary debate.

Ross said he's interested in a career in politics and said Student Congress is especially good practice. Often, he said, participants must defend bills with which they don't personally agree.

"It forces you to get out of your comfort zone intellectually and see things from the other side," he said. "It helps you grow intellectually and frees you to see other people's viewpoints, even if they don't match your own."

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