If you think you’ve heard one argument between teens, you’ve heard them all.
Then you haven’t been to a high school debate lately.
A group of 160 students from across B.C. ranging from Grade 6 to Grade 12, gathered in Trail last weekend, to debate for the top spot to represent the province at the national championships in May.
In high school debates, the students are tasked with convincing their judge and moderators that their statements ring truer than those of their opponent.
However, the one topic not up for debate was the impressive speed, intelligence and wit displayed by the students as they competed in a battle of words and ideas towards their goal of winning the Law Foundation Cup 2013.
“Debating is an art that extends the learning process to develop powerful thinkers,” said Julia Mason, principal of St Michael’s Elementary.
“Countless hours contribute to sharpening the skills and talents of debate participants,” she said. “But most importantly, be proud for having the courage to stand up and address an evidential opinion.”
The morning debates consisted of a prepared topic on the resolution ‘Be it resolved that judges be elected,’” explained Marilyn Lunde, J.L. Crowe teacher and regional coordinator for the Debate and Speech Association of B.C.
The debates included four rounds of cross-examination style for the novice division (Grade 6-8) and two rounds of cross-examination for the junior and senior students.
Rossland Secondary (RSS) student, Rachel Aiken, was the top individual junior participant, and will travel to Vancouver for the junior nationals later this spring, said Lunde.
RSS students, Bronwyn Moore and Aven Cosbey, placed ninth as a novice team, and 12th and 17th respectively, said Lunde. Additionally, RSS students Madeline Grace-Wood and Peyton Reed paired in the novice division and placed third overall and fourth and ninth individually.
In the junior category, J.L. Crowe students Kyla Mears and Matthew McConnachie placed 28th in the team standings and 58th and 45th individually.
After lunch, J.L. Crowe senior debaters Jesse Bartsoff and Emily Dawson were given the impromptu afternoon topic, “This house will ban the publication of names of victims and unconvicted defendants in trial.”
For the senior debate, each participant had eight minutes to speak, and then each team had a final summary speech of four minutes.
Bartsoff and Dawson had 45 minutes to prepare their opposition argument before addressing a team from West Point Grey Academy.
The quick thinking and speed of delivery that outlined key points of proposition (affirmative) by the team from West Point, proved challenging but was a great learning experience, said Bartsoff.
“We were against the national champions and provincial winners from last year,” he explained. “We lost to a great team.”
Bartsoff said that the competition was much tougher this year, and that he and Dawson placed 31 out of 38 teams.
Bartsoff was 51st out of 78th individually, while Dawson scored 63 of 78.
The top two teams faced off at the “grand final” which was held after dinner at the Columbo Lodge, said Lunde.
In the senior division, Jai Mather and Jacob Reedijk, from West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver, took first place for a second year in a row.