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Students Top Independent School Debate Championships

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On Saturday the debating Gryphons regained the Newman-FISA Senior title, successfully defended their Junior title, and were runners up in both Junior and Novice, as well. Superb debate and amazing community support combined to produce GNS’s best Newman-FISA results ever! David Denhoff and Christian Taylor advanced to the Championship debate by winning all three of their preliminary rounds and tying each other for fourth speaker overall. In the final, they won a narrow 3-2 decision against an exceptionally strong Pacific Christian team, on the prepared resolution, “BIRT bullying should be a crime.” Both David and Christian attribute much of their success to the fact that they have worked together for three years now. “The chemistry is crucial,” says David. “And having trust in the other person,” adds Christian. Three GNS teams finished the tournament with a perfect record: BK Kim and Annika Svorkdal were 3-0 and came fourth; Michael Cooper and David Weaver were also 3-0, and finished second; while Alex Hughes and Ella Van Cleave were 3-0, but took top honours with the highest team point total. (Both Ella and Alex, and David and Michael were undefeated at UBC two weeks ago, and are now an impressive 8-0 in interscholastic competition this year.) Michael was also the top individual speaker in the Junior division. The GNS tandem of Chloe Freeman and Nick Mamic were runners-up in the Novice category with a record of 2-1, and Chloe tied for top speaker in that division. Ella and Alex attribute part of the GNS debate team’s strength to the fact that all the members of team truly enjoy debate. “I think that one of the strategies that GNS uses is the fact that we have fun with debate,” says Ella, “and that makes us like doing it so that when we are in a debate we want to do well as opposed to thinking ‘I have to do well’.” The younger teams debated their prepared topic, “BIRT access to process foods should be age-restricted,” once as Affirmative and once as Negative. After lunch the resolutions were Impromptu, ranging from “BIRT the US made a mistake” and “The Government of Canada should legislated an end to the NHL lockout,” to “Social media are the curse of the modern age” and “Indifference and neglect do more harm than outright dislike.” This year’s Newman-FISA, however, was remarkable for much more than the remarkable accomplishments of our debate teams. The GNS community of parents, alumni/ae and friends teamed up to provide three judges in every round—”the gold standard for championship competitions,” according to tournament organizers. GNS is known across the country for extraordinary community support, and once again the GNS family came through—a four-hour power outage notwithstanding! ”The thing about being GNS,” states Dr. Geoff Buerger, “is there is no curve ball that we can be thrown that we can’t cope with and that’s been the GNS reputation for decades. Because not only do we have a strong debate culture amongst the students, we have an amazing debate culture amongst the parents.” Congratulations to the entire debate community at GNS for having such a successful tournament.