St Ignatius takes double honours in debate

| 25/11/2016
CNS Local Life

(L-R) Debate winners Giselle Ebanks and Viktoriya Bolgova of St Ignatius with Justice Alex Henderson

(CNS Local Life): St Ignatius Catholic School students Giselle Ebanks and Viktoriya Bolgova won the recent Conyers Inter-Schools Debate Tournament with their compelling final argument for the statement, “Be it resolved that governments should ban extremist websites”. Bolgova also took individual honours. The tournament brought together 14 teams, seeing the return of students from Cayman Prep, Cayman International School (CIS), Clifton Hunter High School, John Gray High School, Layman E. Scott High School and St Ignatius, along with first-time contestants from Grace Christian Academy.

With weeks to prepare their argument on the main topic, also used for the final, the high school contestants took part in round robin debates that were hosted by eight senior student chairpersons, junior student runners and 28 judges from the community.

In the second round, students choose between two topics: “Professional sports are of no value in modern society” or “Literature is essential to civilisation”.

With just 10 minutes to prepare, the debaters went head to head and showcased their skills of persuasion and understanding of the subject matter.

Students and judges were then invited to attend the exhibition debate, hosted on stage at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre and attended by a host of dignitaries including Governor Kilpatrick, acting Chief Education Officer Lyneth Montieth, recently retired Justice Alex Henderson and MLA Winston Connolly.

First up, and arguing for the motion, were the St Ignatius students, who delivered a well-researched, balanced argument of why governments should ban extremist websites based on the link to mass acts of terrorism and visits to such sites. Referencing the US presidential election, Bolgova said, “Obama had to respond to 14 mass shootings in the United States during his eight years of presidency; we cannot allow Donald Trump to do the same.”

She added, “Nobody is perfect, therefore there has to be limitations on the freedom of speech. Mr Chairman, we are not anarchists thus we need rules on the safety and security of our people.”

Next up was the Clifton Hunter duo of Alexx Bodden and Theola Williams, who argued that individuals must take ownership of their actions and not rely on handholding by the government. Williams asked, “When are we, as well-thinking people in society, going to take some responsibility and do what is right without the government having to pass legislation for us to exist cohesively? Why should the government ban extremist websites? Don’t you have enough work to do? Don’t you have enough activities to be involved in to keep away from such sites?”

In competition for individual honors, the top three speakers were within four points of each other. Bolgova was crowned best individual debater; fellow St Ignatius student Finley McDougall came in second; and Alexander Cummer from CIS finished placed third.

Concluding the prize giving, Connolly said, “Education is a passion of mine. It is the great equaliser. Embrace the challenge. Embrace the time and energy it has taken you to be up on that stage.”

Conyers partner Fraser Hughes said that the firm was proud to be a sponsor for the third time, adding, ‘This evening’s debates showcased a high level of confidence and understanding of the subject matter and the students delivered some persuasive arguments.

“The use of persuasion is integral to a number of career paths and Conyers is proud to support an event that offers a platform to exercise these skills.”

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Category: Education, High School

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