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GNS Senior Debate Teams Tackle Topics Online

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In November, three teams from GNS took part in the Canadian British Parliamentary Debate Championships. This event—which ran virtually this year—is one of the most competitive debate events in Canada. Our students qualified for the BP Championships after participating in the provincial event in October. This year was special because it was the first time that all three GNS teams qualified for this event—and three teams is the maximum amount that one school can send. Students who participated were Alexander Muller-Clemm, Andrew Wale, Anders Woodruff, Corin Wallace, Gabby MacPherson and Dana Mavrow.  “The entire GNS team was very successful, with all debaters holding their own at a national level. All of our teams ended up making it to the top 20 per cent of teams who competed at Nationals,” said Andrew. Students competed in six rounds of impromptu, competitive debate looking at global issues. They are allotted just 15 minutes to prepare for topics.  “The BP Nationals went well, and they were super fun,” said Anders who was partnered with Corin. “My partner and I had a few really fun rounds. Especially the first topic, on proselytizing low socio-economic status communities, and the fourth topic, on creating Truth and Reconciliation Commissions instead of prosecution in the aftermath of conflict. On these topics, we had the opportunities to talk about principle and practical, multiple actors, and multiple perspectives to create nuanced arguments.”  With debate competitions being exclusively online this year, it’s been great that students have still been able to practice, but they have been missing the travel aspect and meeting new people in person.   “Overall, I appreciate the opportunity to debate despite COVID-19 restrictions, but I miss the experience of travelling as a team and staying together. It’s a unique experience, and I think you establish especially close relationships with your teammates and coaches if you spend multiple weekends with them every year,” explained Anders.  While there have been some technical setbacks when it comes to debate being online, Dana says it’s been better than she thought.  “The idea of online debate was so daunting at first because regular debate is already pretty scary,” she said. “While I originally thought it would be hard online…I think all of us have found a lot of success in being able to focus on our material instead of everything happening with the judges and whatnot.”  Being coached by Ms. Elspeth Easton and Fiona Thompson ’15, Dana said, has been fun, and the teams were thankful for all the hard work they have put into helping them.  “I think we are incredibly lucky to have such a high-caliber of coaching,” she said. “For how small the school is, we are going against much larger schools with more people.”  Throughout the year and in between competitions, the Grade 12s have also had the opportunity to help Ms. Easton with novice debaters, and have become role models for that group.  Way to go, Senior debaters! Good luck with upcoming events!