Seven schools from Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac took part in the Conyers Inter-Schools Debate Tournament earlier this month at St. Ignatius Catholic School.
All local schools were invited to take part and more than 50 students from both private and public schools participated. This was the largest turnout in the tournament’s history, organizers said in a press release.
The students debated a range of impromptu resolutions, many with a sports theme, ranging from whether the Olympics should be disbanded, or whether performance-enhancing drugs should be used in sports, or whether winning is everything.
One topical resolution was whether teachers should carry firearms to deter school shootings. Another was whether information on excessively violent crimes should be banned. The final debate challenged the top two teams to argue whether students on school sports teams should have a minimum GPA.
The Open Division debate was won by Cayman International School’s team of Richard Weber and Charles Sokohl, with John Gray High School’s Chadene Brooks and Mark Plowright as runners-up. Mark, Chadene and Charles were ranked first, second and third place, individually.
In the Novice Division, Aidan Watler was voted the best novice debater, and the team of Ellie Nickason and Lilly Langevin from Cayman International School was the best novice team.
Fraser Hughes, a litigation partner with Conyers, the founder and sole sponsor of the tournament, said, “Debating teaches students to think and structure arguments in an organized and persuasive manner. Through the debate tournament, we aim to encourage the integration of world issues into everyday conversation. Improving the ability to think and persuade creates an educational foundation that is transferrable to all kinds of careers and situations. The tournament offers the ideal space for which students can begin to have these discussions.”
The tournament’s director Ian Whan Tong noted that the twice-yearly debate tournament has become a prominent fixture on the school calendar in just three short years.
“This is our sixth consecutive tournament, and the huge growth in the Novice Division shows the interest in competitive debate among younger students – which is nothing short of fantastic,” he added.
More than 40 judges were drawn largely from the business and legal community. Justice Marlene Carter of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands judged the final debate, with a number of other members of the community involved.
Director of Education Services Lyneth Monteith and Chief Officer Christen Suckoo of the Ministry of Education also attended the debates. The next tournament is scheduled to be held in the fall.