This year we have a new 8th grade class called, Leadership and Community. Each student has one semester of this class and one semester of Gardening. During the fall semester, the first group in the Leadership class has been practicing debate in the classroom; each team of 3-4 students is given a topic to study and instructions on how to prepare their argument. We have followed the format of Parliamentary Debate. The first team debated on the topic of European style prisons versus American style prisons. The second team debated on the pros and cons of selling used clothing from the United States to specific African countries; new policies in Kenya and Uganda will ban these sales in 2019. Both debates were lively, engaging and thoughtful.
A few weeks ago, our School was contacted by John Cronin, a teacher at Garden City Middle School, who asked us to consider joining a middle school debate league that was developing in our area. He offered to bring some of his students to our School to demonstrate a formal debate. We arranged a time for the visit, and on November 9th, students from Garden City Middle School and Mineola Middle School visited us to hold a demonstration debate. Our 7th and 8th grade students all attended this event and were impressed by the discipline and sophistication of the debaters.
We are exploring the possibility of joining this debate league, practicing within our School, and attending a regional debate tournament in May 2018.