Friday, 16 December 2016 05:26

SCCHS Business Club hosts provincial debate

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Kieran Hughes of the SCCHS Business Club speaks in opposition to the motion that social networking does more harm than good during the debate competition in Swift Current, Dec. 10. Seated next to him is teammate Cole Anderson. Kieran Hughes of the SCCHS Business Club speaks in opposition to the motion that social networking does more harm than good during the debate competition in Swift Current, Dec. 10. Seated next to him is teammate Cole Anderson. Matthew Liebenberg

Six students from the Swift Current Comprehensive High School (SCCHS) Business Club had an opportunity to apply their critical thinking skills during a provincial debate competition at their school.

The SCCHS Business Club hosted a Saskatchewan Elocution and Debate Association (SEDA) tournament, Dec. 10.
This was only the second time that Grade 10 student Sara Cronan and Harshini Arumugam, a Grade 11 student, competed at a SEDA tournament. Both students enjoyed the experience to speak their mind during a debate.
“It’s just a really good way you can talk about important issues that are happening,” Cronan said. “You can just have a good conversation with people because you can’t find that in society really today that you can have conversations about things that matter and it is good skills for the future as well.”
Two teams from the SCCHS Business Club competed on Nov. 25 at a SEDA tournament at Luther College High School in Regina, where Cronan was a member of the first place team.
“It was surprising,” she said. “We didn’t think we would do that good, but we did.”
Arumugam’s team placed third at that tournament out of 12 teams. That was her first debate experience and she really enjoyed it.
“It was interesting to meet people with like-minded ideas and it was a very diverse group of people,” she said. “It was just really exciting to find a lot of different kind of people there.”
Many of the debaters at the Regina competition attended the tournament in Swift Current.
“I saw some people that I saw at Luther, which meant that we were able to continue conversations and kind of keep up with our friendship, which is really exciting,” she said.
She decided to participate in debate competition because she wants to be a lawyer.
“I thought it would be good practise to get some argument skills in there and I really like it too,” she said. “It’s a really nice way to meet new people and have discussions about things that matter.”
Six members of the SCCHS Business Club participated in the Swift Current tournament. All three teams competed in the high school novice category. Arumugam debated with David Camarador, Cronan’s teammate was Eljay Dungca and the members of the third team were Cole Anderson and Kieran Hughes.
The format for the debate tournament at SCCHS was different than the previous one in Regina. Motions for the debate at Luther College were received before the time and teams were able to prepare their arguments. The impromptu format of the competition meant students only had 30 minutes before the start of debate to prepare.
“We were really nervous coming into the impromptu debates, but I’m really happy I got to do it,” Arumugam said. “I think it was a really good practice for me, but it’s very nerve-racking only having 30 minutes to prepare for the entire debate.”
The theme of the debate competition in Swift Current was media and technology. The teams in the novice category debated the following three motions: This house believes social networking does more harm than good, this house regrets the use of internet news sites, and this house believes the internet promotes democracy.
It was another successful debate experience for the Swift Current students. Arumugam and Camarador placed third out of eight teams in the novice division. Dungca won second place in the individual speaker category for novice debaters and Arumugam won third place.
SCCHS business education teacher Cindy Lowe felt the students did really well at only their second competition for the year.
“These kids have really worked hard individually to improve their skills,” she said. “We went to Luther and based on how they did at Luther they were inspired to work hard for today.”
She appreciated the involvement of the community to make the debate competition in Swift Current a success. Over 80 volunteers helped out as judges and moderators at the tournament.
“Everyone said it went smoothly with no glitches … and we had tons of community volunteers,” she said. “I think that's what made everything work so well.”
According to SEDA Executive Director Melissa Ong the SCCHS tournament was attended by over 80 Grade 5-12 students from Regina and Yorkton. The vision of SEDA is to train and equip young people in the power of words and critical thinking through debate and speech activities.
“It gives them a voice,” she said. “It teaches them how to think and how to speak, and I think it allows them to think about important issues and think of it from both sides and then have a better understanding of what they believe or what issues are in front of us.”
SEDA debate tournaments take place around the province and the number of participants will depend on whether teachers have the time to promote debate activities at schools.
“Usually when they had a debate club and the teacher moves, it’s harder to start another one, but there has been a growth this year,” she said. “So it’s exciting to have kids come out and be willing to debate.”
This is the second year of debate activities as part of the SCCHS Business Club program.
“We started it a little bit last year with four kids,” Lowe said. “We went to Luther and we went to provincials. I couldn’t do two clubs, because I do the business club too. So we included debate activities in our business club. … We just sort of started to learn about debate last year and then really incorporate it into our activities this year.”
She felt it would be a good way to create more interest among students in debate by hosting a tournament at the school.
“It’s hard to get them interested without seeing it, and so by hosting it I had a ton of kids telling me they want to do it next year or they want to do it right away or they want to go to provincials or the next debate,” she said. “So competition is a good way for them to learn.”
She feels it works well to include debate with the other activities of the business club because it is part of public speaking and it can assist students to develop their interview skills. It also gives students an additional competition to attend and prepare for.
“I feel like in a way we’re preparing the kids for university involvement,” she said. “There’s a real amazing program at U of R and U of S, called JDC West. It’s a competition for the business students at      U of R and U of S that’s all western Canada, and debate is one of the categories.”
Student interest in the SCCHS Business Club has grown since Lowe started the club informally two years ago, when six students attended a business completion.
“Last year I started to do it as a club and we attended that one debate last year and then this year it’s a full out,” she said. “So I have at least 25 members right now – kids that have paid and are involved. So it has really taken off. … I think we’re offering something the kids want. We’re offering finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, mentorship, a place for kids to belong.”

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Matthew Liebenberg


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