The first university-based debate tournament for high school students produced spirited dialogue and eventually a set of winners in each category.
"We are extremely proud of all the debaters for their initiative and perseverance. Each round was heated and judges underwent intense deliberation," said Sufey Chen, President of the UNBC Debate Society which hosted this event.
The overall winners of the Northern Academic Debate Championship (NADC) team event were Daud Akhtar and Layton Ramsey who picked up the NADC trophy. The other finalists were Gurbind Deo and Terrance Badham (2nd place), Minlyn Chen and Jesmeen Deo (3rd place) and Imogene McDonald & Fei Ge (4th place).
Other awards went to Gurbind Deo as top individual senior debater and Jesmeen Deo as the top individual junior debater for achieving the highest cumulative speaker points in their category.
The public speech finalists were Daud Akhtar (1st place), Jesmeen Deo (2nd place), and Fei Ge (3rd place).
There were five rounds of debate to arrive at a winning team. Team members were switched for each round. Each debater was given 30 minutes to prepare five-minute speeches on topics undisclosed before the round. The topics included:
This House Believes That the development of natural resources takes precedence over the protection of the environment.
This House Believes That mothers belong in the house.
This House Believes That post-secondary education should be government funded.
This House Would buy organs and body parts.
This House Believes That academic qualifications ensures success.
"Our mission is to build up a community of active, engaged students who have the ability to voice their opinions effectively," Chen said. "We believe that there are many brilliant youths in our community who are dedicated, passionate and intelligent and these are the students that inspire us to put in all the work that we do. Children don't seem to get enough credit for what they can do. The depth of analysis we saw this weekend during the debates was incredible."
She thanks the team of volunteers, the many sponsors and gave special recognition to James Alexander for putting in more hours of preparation to this tournament than most jobs usually entail.
In addition to the championship trophies, each participant was provided with food, a T-shirt, a UNBC resource folder, and other items to reward their efforts and encourage their pursuits.
"The goal of academia should be to spark the curiosity present in every young mind and, through that, drive the desire to learn," said Chen, promising there would be a second edition of the NADC next year. "We hope that by exposing students to debate, where they have to be able to understand both sides of every motion, they will start asking questions again. It was a pleasure for us to watch inexperienced debaters accumulate confidence, poise, passion and clarity as they improved with each round."
There were 17 participants ranging from 10 years old to 18 years old, all from Prince George. Organizers hope for out of town debaters next year as well.