Thirteen 8th graders made the journey to Garden City Middle School to participate in their first ever formal public debates. The students have been hard at work preparing for this event for the past few weeks and were excited for the opportunity to compete against seasoned debaters. Our School brought three teams of two to the competition with the other students coming to provide moral support.
The three teams each were each given a resolution (a debate topic chosen by both our School and Garden City Middle School) and a side to defend, either Affirmative (in favor of the resolution) or Negative (against the resolution). The affirmative team would begin the debate with their initial constructive arguments, which the negative team would then rebut before constructing their own case. The two teams would then each have the opportunity to refute their opponents case and defend their own as well as opportunities for cross-examination. Finally once the final speech had been made, a panel of three judges would vote on a winner.
Our first team of Viresh Chandra and Nayoun Kim delivered a number of well-reasoned and organized arguments that proved a challenge to the opposing team. Despite the lack of experience, the two were able to provide a solid affirmative case on the resolution that the voting age should be lowered to 16. The next team of Sanaalee Troupe and Kiki Fraim also provided a spirited negative case against the resolution that animals should be allowed on commercial airlines that the judges found very convincing. The final team of Lizzie Sokolova and Joshua Wang were able to stage an upset win against the opposing team with their negative case against the resolution that teachers should be allowed to carry firearms in schools. All the students performed beyond expectations and found the activity both challenging and rewarding.
The students and staff of the Garden City Middle School were very kind and complimentary, giving our students a tremendous amount of support and encouragement as they prepared for this first debate. Our class was very grateful for all they did, and we look forward to working with them in the future.
I am so proud of all of our students for putting in the time and effort to make this debate a success. Debate is an excellent way of developing the students’ critical thinking skills and listening skills. I am very excited to continue the work of debate in the middle school going forward, and I am glad the students enjoyed the activity.