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Jyotish Khanna wins National Debate Seminar

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Were you to look carefully at the names on the wall in the Speaker’s Corner of the lower Gudewill building, you would be greeted by the names of many of GNS’s most famous debaters in the last two decades. A veritable pantheon of great debaters past, this wall celebrates one of our school’s longest-standing centers of excellence. Many of those names have gone on to be Oxford and Ivy League scholars and debaters. Now, we can–very proudly—add another name to the wall. Monday morning, Jyotish Khanna, currently in Grade 11, returned from Toronto with the Weedon Trophy—awarded to the winner of the 2012 National Debate Seminar.To put it into perspective: BC debaters have only won the Weedon Trophy as the top English-language debater six times—the sixth being Jyotish—in the 42 National Seminars that have been held since the foundation of the event. Incidentally, Jyotish also won the Founder’s Cup as the top speaker from BC (though this is redundant when one takes home the top prize!). Many influential Canadian leaders, in all walks of life, have been National Seminar delegates. Just being selected is a mark of distinction, since each province is limited to four English, one francophone, and one bilingual debater. To be one of the four debaters chosen from across BC is a mark of excellence, and two GNS students have qualified in the last two years: Christian Taylor and Jyotish. Christian Taylor, speaking today, was so very generous and effusive in his praise of Jyotish. Last year’s Seminar was cancelled, so Christian had to wait until this year (as with the other 2011 delegates). Unfortunately, a major event to which he was already committed precluded his involvement in the 2012 Seminar. Still, he found the time to praise his fellow GNS debate teammate: “This is such an impressive achievement—any time! But it’s all the more impressive when you consider that most of the 2011 delegates were also involved in the 2012 competition.” The GNS debate community is understandably proud and closely-knit. Given very little time to comment upon Jyotish’s triumph, several former GNS debate alumni were speedy and enthusiastic in offering their praise. Graeme Cooke ’07 marveled at the “consistency with which GNS is able to send delegates to these high-profile, national events. Congratulations to Jyotish, and a real testament to the school and to the program.” Cooke added, “I was very fortunate to have this opportunity as well. It’s a very unique experience to come together with students from every corner of the country who share your interests.” Ashish Sudhakaran ’09 also offered his praise for Jyotish, saying, “It is extremely difficult to contemplate winning such a tournament, no matter how accomplished a speaker you are; the competition at these tournaments unites the best of the best in Canada.” He added, “Since leaving GNS, I have realized just how special such events were—not only because the vast majority of people at university have never debated or even spoken in public, but also because it is such a cherished and rare skill for someone so young to possess.” While Dr. Buerger, GNS’s current Debate Coach, accompanied Jyotish to Toronto (and is featured in the video [above]), Jyotish’s former debate coach, Mr. John Baty, was thrilled to offer praise to his former protégé: “This genuinely means that Jyotish is one of the up and coming stars across Canada,” he enthused. “Justice has been done. Jyotish is on his way!”