Friday, 10 November 2017 06:20

Local students showcase their debating skills at Swift Current tournament

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Business education teacher Cindy Lowe speaks with SCCHS Business Club students before the start of the debate competition, Nov. 4. Business education teacher Cindy Lowe speaks with SCCHS Business Club students before the start of the debate competition, Nov. 4.

Local students won a number of medals at a provincial debate competition hosted by the Swift Current Comprehensive High School (SCCHS) Business Club, Nov. 4.


This was the second year that the SCCHS Business Club welcomed debaters to the city for a Saskatchewan Elocution and Debate Association (SEDA) tournament.
SCCHS business education teacher Cindy Lowe said 60 Grade 5-12 students participated in the competition. Four schools from Regina travelled to Swift Current for the event. A lot of volunteers helped to make the day a success and there were 45 judges and 20 student volunteers.
“Today was amazing,” she mentioned. “We had more judges and moderators and volunteers than we’ve had in the previous year. ... We had five Swift Current teams here, which is the most we’ve put into a tournament, and everybody told me we ran without a glitch. We ran on time, even considering we started an hour later.”
Regina students arrived late due to poor road conditions, but good time management during the day brought the event back on schedule. The Swift Current competition was the second event of the year on the 2017-18 SEDA tournament schedule.
“We’ll try and get our kids to at least two or three this year in order to qualify for provincials,” she said. “They need to attend two to qualify and so we’re going to try to attend Luther [College] and the U of S.”
Students competed in three rounds of impromptu debate on the broad theme of the arts at the Swift Current competition. The most experienced local team was Harshini Arumugam and Eljay Dungca, who competed in the open division. They won gold as a team, and also dominated the standings in the individual speaker awards. Arumugam placed first and Dungca was second in this category.
Emma Carlson and Patience Dyck, who are Grade 8 students at All Saints Catholic School, were members of the SCCHS Business Club team at the competition. They debated in the intermediate division.
“I can register anybody under our club,” Lowe said. “So they’re registered under the Comp business team.”
Three local teams competed in the novice division – Abby de Gala and Jarrod Quintin, Megan de Jager and Jemmie Ponting, as well as Michael Orthner and Grady Rogers.
De Gala and Quintin placed first in the team awards, while De Jager and Ponting finished second. De Jager won gold in the category for speaker awards and Quintin received bronze. Quintin, who is the current president of the SCCHS Business Club, participated in his first debate competition.
“It was fun,” he said. “I got to practice on some public speaking, got to argue with a few people. Debate is a really different type of speaking. It’s the only type of competitive speaking that you can think of, and then it allows you to unlock something that you would normally never use.”
His success at his first competition came as a pleasant surprise, and it will motivate him to continue debating.
“Obviously I still have lots to learn, but this boosts my confidence enough to do it again,” he said.
One of the challenges of the impromptu debate format is that students do not receive their debate topics before the event. They can only base their preparation on the broad debate theme, but the specific motion for each debate round is only announced 30 minutes before the start of a debate.
“Once you get your topic, you have to start jotting down some points on what you think you’re going to argue, and then you have to consult with your partner on what you’re going to say and get some examples,” he said. “Then you start structuring how you’re going to talk. Basically you’re just making a bunch of points and then you just elaborate on them.”
For the first motion the teams had to debate for or against the motion that funding should be increased significantly for indigenous artists. For the second debate round the motion was that “this house regrets the creation of YouTube.”
There were two motions for the third round. The junior teams debated the motion that art class should be mandatory for all students, and the senior teams debated the statement that in communities with a certain socio-economic status the schools should teach vocational classes instead of art.
Quintin felt the topics presented various levels of difficulty, but the final one was a real challenge.
“That could be considered difficult, because many people love liberal arts and practice them, but many people also require trades for everyday life,” he said. “So it can go either way there.”
Lowe expressed gratitude towards everyone in the community who helped out to make the competition a success and to provide students an opportunity to debate.
“The mandate of debate is to build future leaders,” she said. “I think that’s what I’m doing with my business club and my debate group – teaching them words matter and being articulate, persuasive, confident leaders of tomorrow. ... I think the community saw that today in droves. Everyone commented on the calibre of kids that debated here and I’m really, really proud of our students and thankful the community supported us.”

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Matthew Liebenberg

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