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Students Advance to National Debating Competition

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Grade 11 debating partners David Denhoff and Christian Taylor remember watching their classmates Jennifer Losie ’09 and Ashish Sudhakaran ’09 win first place in the Provincial Debating Championships four years ago. They were in Grade 7 at the time and had only one year of debating under their belts, but David and Christian decided that very day that, like their peers, they also wanted to win the highest provincial honour, the Law Foundation Cup. After four years of training and hard work, David and Christian followed in the footsteps of their GNS role models and achieved their long-time goal, bringing the Law Foundation Cup back to GNS for the third time in five years. David, Christian, and a host of GNS debaters qualified for the Provincial Championship after a successful showing at the Island Regional Championship. The prepared topic of the day, BIRT Canadian judges should be allowed to sentence convicted killers to military service in place of jail time, challenged our students to dig through facts and figures as well as call upon their morals to argue successfully both sides of the topic. Christian and David’s first place finish earned them a place at Senior Nationals taking place in Montreal from April 25 to 30 as well as a spot at the Oxford Cup in November. GNS had a host of other notable results: Grade 9 student Kadie Freeman garnered a space at the Junior Nationals; Grade 10 student Jyotish Khanna has been invited to attend the Senior National Debates Seminar; Grade 8 students Michael Cooper and Annika Svorkdal placed third overall; and Michael and Nicholas Higgins tied for bronze in the single Novice category. Nicholas also received the bronze medal in the public speaking, which will take him to the National Speech competition in April. Overall, this was another strong year for GNS, who, once again, brought the largest contingent of debaters to Provincials. Also significant to our success is that our team has the honour of being coached by Mr. John Baty, a former coach of the Canadian debate team, director of the Alberta Debate and Speech Association, president of the Canadian Student Debating Federation, and repeat adjudicator at the World Schools Debating Championship—amongst other honours. Mr. Baty is retiring from teaching at the end of this school year, and we thank him sincerely for the years of dedication to our strong debating program.