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Students on Henry Ford debate team hope to raise $20K for Ghana trip

Posted at 12:31 PM, Jun 19, 2024

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Three students on the debate team at Henry Ford High School are looking to raise $20,000 by Friday, so they can join their fellow debaters in Ghana for a debate.

“We all deserve this,” said Jada Harris, a member of the debate team. “Because we all put this hard work in…

“But not having the funds is very difficult for us.”

The team was promised a trip to Ghana by the Umoja Debate League for winning the title as the 2024 Umoja Debate League Champions for the high school division at the annual City Championship Debate.

But, due to some technicalities at the debate, the winning seats for Ghana had to be split between two schools—leaving three students from the champion team out of the trip.

"There was a few little discrepancies regarding brackets,” said Deon Davidson, Henry Ford High School Debate team coach. “So, therefore, the six slots afforded to the students were split between two teams.”

According to Marquita Reese, a team mom and master teacher at Henry Ford, the team has only raised $26.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District Foundation has committed $2000 to help toward the students’ expenses, according to Kerrie Mitchell, President and CEO of the foundation.

Johnathan Burkes is one of the three students who may not be going to Ghana. He says it saddens him because these opportunities do not come around often.

‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip,” Burkes said, who is planning to attend Jackson State University in the fall.

Coach Deon says the debate trip will open the students' eyes to culture outside of what they already know. The trip will also equip the students with tools that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives, he said.

“We just really hope all of our students can go,” Davidson said.

Timothy Little, another student who may not be joining his teammates in Ghana, says it feels like an opportunity snatched.

“Sometimes you can almost feel like you are always stuck” Little, who is going to Howard University in the fall, said. "You get opportunities. It feels like you fight as hard as you can, as much as you can and then that easily... It can be snatched from you in just a split second."

Jada Harris says she is staying home to attend Lawrence Technological University this fall, but wants to join her classmates one more time before starting her new path.

“I hope we can all go” she said.

All the money collected will cover the student’s passport fees, flight, hotel and all accommodations while the team is in Ghana.

To donate toward the students travel to Ghana, click this link. The money will be refunded to the sender if the amount the team is seeking is not raised, according to Reese.