Senior Ethan Burnham

How a student juggles a life of debate, college and track.

   This is it. The final lap. It’s a race against the clock. Glistening sweat falls down from each red forehead to the rocky pavement as the blistering sun pierces down on all the exhausted runners. The finish line is within sight. Runners push themselves to the breaking point, especially senior Ethan Burnham, until one teammate starts to lag behind. Everyone passes the straggler, desperate to finally relax their burning muscles–everyone besides Burnham, who slows down and starts running with an encouraging smile to his teammate.

   Burnham is a student who participates in cross-country, debate and German since middle school while recently joining the Early College program. From the start, Burnham expressed an interest in debate through his father’s history with the class. This interest morphed into a passion; a passion which allowed for an outlet for cut thought process. 

      “I want to display this outward sense of optimism and hope,” Burnham said. “To bring people closer together and to show that there is good that we can do because a lot of what becomes international politics can be pretty divisive.”

   Whether running a 5k or crafting a thesis for one of his classes, debate is on Burnham’s mind. Even with this dedication, Burnham is dedicated to his classes and extracurricular activities. From the start, Burnham has been taught and has practiced that trust, commitment and family are key values in a healthy, happy and productive life.  

     “Commitment to me is pretty much everything. It’s one of the three big principles that we teach for liberty cross-country,” Burnham said. “One of the principles is that the more you put into something, the more time and effort that you put in, the more that you get out.  That kind of applies to everything that I do. The more effort that I put in, the more that I am able to get out of that activity.” 

Senior Ethan Burnham stands loud and powerful while giving his speech for a practice Lincon Douglas round this weekend. Burnham has won countless awards in not just Lincon Douglas (1st place) but also Public forum debate (2nd Place), going to state for LD and semifinals in the national qualifiers. “My goal is hopefully to be able to carry public speaking, research and argumentation skills in something that will eventually provide for me and allow me to leave my mark on the world,” Burnham said.

   Burnham followed his family’s history when joining debate, but when it came to a foreign language in eighth grade, he decided to stray from the pack and take German. Now in German V, the highest level offered, Burnham has shown remarkable growth with grammar and vocabulary. Last year, he tested his knowledge on the Seal of Biliteracy and passed, earning him thousands of dollars in college scholars. His innate German fluency allows for him to aid other students.

   “He has definitely grown and with that growth came an increase in seeking knowledge,” German teacher Christine Hernandez said. “He has always been a fantastic student right from the start.”

  Those with Burnham watched his progression across debate, cross-country and German are his friends seniors Alex Boyd and Thomas Jayroe. Boyd and Jayroe both had varying first impressions of him, but it was soon clear first impressions didn’t matter. When Jayroe and Burnham talked during their runs, or Boyd and Burnham in class, a life-long friendship emerged. 

   “He is always a good friend and he knows what he’s talking about,” Boyd said. “Whatever he does in life, he’s passionate and he doesn’t really like putting half effort into things. It’s always one or the other.”

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