School teams debate gender equality

Aiden Watler and Sophie Ellison of Cayman Prep and High School, who won first place in the Conyers Inter-School Debate Tournament, with tournament director Ian Whan-tong. - Photo: Submitted

Teams of students debated gender equality and the monetary value of stay-at-home wives and mothers in the annual Conyers Inter-school Debate Tournament on Monday to mark the start of Honouring Women’s Month.

The 12th annual tournament, held in collaboration with the Family Resource Centre, took place at Cayman Prep and High School. It was won by the team of Sophie Ellison and Aiden Watler from the host school, while second place went to Sadie Finch and Thomas Dickens from Cayman International School.

The tournament saw 74 students from John Gray High School, Cayman Prep and High School, St. Ignatius Catholic School, Clifton Hunter High School, Wesleyan Christian Academy and Cayman International School competing in two divisions – novice and open – over three rounds.

Also involved in making the tournament a reality were more than 60 business people, ranging from lawyers, accountants, consultants, and other leaders from the Cayman business community who volunteered their afternoon and evening to act as judges. The tournament itself was run by more than 40 students and teachers at Cayman Prep and High School, the release stated.

In the first two rounds, students in the open division debated the resolution ‘This house believes that global gender equality will not be achieved in our lifetime’, while students in the novice division debated the resolution, ‘This house believes that stay-at-home wives and mothers ought to be paid for domestic work’.

“Honouring Women’s Month is an excellent time to take stock of how far we’ve come and how much further we have to go to achieve gender equality,” said Kevin Butler, partner and head of the Conyers Cayman Islands office. “We were pleased to partner with the Family Resource Centre for our spring 2021 debate and are committed to sponsoring initiatives like the debate that help develop the next generation of professionals in the Cayman Islands.”

The final round of debate, which was judged by Grand Court Justice Marlene Carter, took place on stage in front of the other students, judges, coaches and parents.

Awards were presented by Stran Bodden, chief officer in the Ministry of District Administration, Tourism and Transport; and Eric Bush, chief officer in the Ministry of International Trade, Investment, Aviation and Maritime Affairs.

Mehr Lamba, programme facilitator with the Family Resource Centre, said in a press release about the event, “Young persons are our future and to hear intelligent and nuanced debate by students on issues central to gender equality, especially during Honouring Women’s Month, gives us hope for the future.”

Attendees at the final debate round were treated to a dinner catered by a team of women chefs from Mise En Place. Conyers also donated to the ‘Women in White’ scholarship fund,  established to help female chefs further their professional studies abroad.

Tournament director Ian Whan-Tong said in the release, “The Conyers Inter-school Debate Tournament continues to go from strength to strength with greater interest from schools, teachers and the community. Our students today have a wide range of extra-curricular activities, but debate allows students to develop a number of skills that are essential for their future success: critical thinking, confidence, communication and a growth mindset.”

Since its inception in October 2015, more than 250 high school students representing all local secondary schools have debated more than 40 different resolutions in the course of at least 350 individual competitive inter-school debates.

The 13th Conyers Inter-School Debate will be held in the autumn of 2021.

The top teams and speakers were as follows:

Open Division Team Awards

Sophie Ellison and Aiden Watler, Cayman Prep and High School, First Place

Sadie Finch and Thomas Dickens, Cayman International School, Second Place

Shaela Reid and Hadassah Blake, John Gray High School, Third Place

Open Division Individual Awards:

Aiden Watler, Cayman Prep and High School, Best Speaker

Sophie Ellison, Cayman Prep and High School, Second Place Speaker

Sadie Finch, Cayman International School, Third Place Speaker

Novice Division Team Awards:

Solomon Aka and Dabari Morgan, Clifton Hunter High School, First Place

Natalia Cugliari and George Zimmerman, Cayman International School, Second Place

Michael Moncreiff and Moises Diaz Pascual, Clifton Hunter High School, Third Place

Novice Division Individual Awards:

Moises Diaz Pascual, Clifton Hunter High School, Best Speaker

Solomon Aka, Clifton Hunter High School, Second Place Speaker

Natalia Cugliari, Cayman International School, Third Place Speaker

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