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Early Days of Debating at NHS & Glenlyon (GNS)

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Early Days of Debating at NHS & Glenlyon (GNS)

In September 1958, Mrs. Gore-Langton joined the staff at NHS as a Social Studies teacher. She was very generous with her time for special activities, most particularly the United Nations Club, as well as a sponsor of Public Speaking competitions and starting a Debating Club. In fact, in the 70’s the specific activity of debating superseded the element of debate that was within the UN activities. 

Debate competitions were set up both with the Independent Schools and with the Provincial High Schools with Provincial winners going to a Canadian Tournament. This became possible in part after Winnifred Scott received a call from a debate coach of one of the Burnaby High Schools saying that “Unless B.C. sends someone to the National meeting in Edmonton next week and forms a B.C. Debate and Speech Association, we will not be able to compete in the Nationals”. David Bennett of Glenlyon, a strong debating supporter and responsible for introducing debating at the school, was with Hamish Simpson’s approval, sent and upon his return a Provincial constitution was drawn up with Scott and Bennett as signatories. Thus debating was established on a province-wide basis. 

At NHS, with enthusiastic coaching from Mrs. Read, Mr. Doney and Ms. Chatterton, the popularity of this activity grew in leaps and bounds. At Glenlyon, the strong beginnings guided by Colin Skinner and David Bennett were continued by Jim de Goede until into the amalgamation of the two schools. The efforts and skills of these teachers contributed significantly to the great success of Glenlyon and NHS teams in the debating competitions throughout those early years.

As the topics for debate were rarely concerned with school matters, the exposure to national and international issues greatly extended student horizons and served as a great motivator for the involvement of young, aspiring global thinkers – in of itself a contributing factor to the adoption of the IB programme into the school’s strategic plan.