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CHS Graduate Gives “Nation’s Best” Speech

June 26, 2019

Gracie Pipes, a 2019 Crowley High School graduate and aspiring teacher, earned first-place honors in Creative Lecture at the Educators Rising National Conference this week in Dallas.

Gracie Pipes Her TED Talk-style presentation included a 10-minute memorized speech on the assigned topic of school safety and what school districts can do to help put parents’ minds at ease as they send their children to learn.  

Pipes was able to deliver a unique perspective as she spoke about her mother’s experience during the Wedgewood Baptist Church shooting in Fort Worth. On Sept. 15, 1999, her mother served in the children’s nursery as the shooter entered the sanctuary and took seven innocent lives.

Bobette Vroon, an education and training teacher at the B.R. Johnson Career and Tech Center, worked with Pipes all semester to prepare for the presentation.

“Through research about shootings in schools, current school districts allowing teachers to carry guns and thoughts from parents and students, Gracie suggested a realistic approach on how to improve school safety today and years to come,” Vroon said. “It’s a brilliant speech that is heartfelt and real. Gracie inspires and touches everyone she meets. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to be her teacher and watch her grow into such a positive role model for educators today.”

Pipes acknowledged student organizations and the Global Prep Academy for fulfilling her high school experience.

“I hope that all students can take advantage of the wonderful organizations that are offered in Crowley ISD," Pipes said. "To finish my high school career by winning first place in the nation feels so rewarding.”

Pipes also claimed fourth-place accolades for her presentation in Exploring Administration Careers after spending an eight-hour day observing Jason Dunkelberger, a former assistant principal at the B.R. Johnson Career and Tech Center.

Pipes comes from a family of educators. Her father, Sam, is a learning coach at CISD’s Global Prep Academy, and her grandmother, Evelyn, is a retired educator who taught at Bess Race Elementary. Gracie will attend Oklahoma Baptist University in the fall.

As a junior, Pipes served as the Region 11 President for the Texas Association of Future Educators (TAFE), and she delivered a speech on student absenteesim that garnered fifth overall at the national Educators Rising competition. She also delivered her speech to more than 1,500 CISD educators and staff at the district’s Employee Convocation in August.

“What I feel makes Gracie stand out among the others is that she believes what she speaks about,” Vroon said. “She truly wants to make a difference in the lives of young children and to improve public education. She is a gifted speaker with a personality that captures her audience.”