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Upholding a GNS Tradition

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The Debate Club has been part of Glenlyon Norfolk School’s culture and heritage for a long time, starting with Rosemary Penn ’43, who was a strong believer in the importance of debate. With an extensive history of success, it is one of our school’s major co-curricular activities. 


Debate coaches Ms. Elspeth Easton ’10 and Ms. Fiona Thompson ’15, have been at the forefront for several years, guiding student after student to success. COVID-19 has taken a huge toll on debaters but the GNS debate club is still going strong. 


Wednesdays after school, Ms. Easton and Ms. Thompson meet with the Senior School debaters to generously mentor and share their extensive and valuable knowledge on the sophisticated art of arguing. Young debaters in the Middle School Debate Club meet Tuesdays after school. Tournaments this year have all been online, providing an extra challenge and unique milestone for debaters.

“All of our tournaments are taking place online, so we spending time making sure people are not only comfortable talking, but talking to the camera,” said Ms. Easton. 


From February 5 to 6, Debate Regionals will be hosted by GNS, with Ms. Easton organizing and running the competition. Ms. Easton and her team of participating debaters will rise early in the morning to prepare for this virtual competition that runs the entire day. 

“Doing rounds, booking extra times for reading and working together with the team, because many minds are better than one,” is something Ms. Easton loves to tell debaters who are preparing for tournaments and contests. 


Rounds of “Hot Seat” and other debate styles are practiced weekly. Grade 12s, with their skill and experience, lead the exercises. “Hot Seat” is a “one-vs-everybody” style of debate that provides the debater with a platform to learn how to ask and answer questions from various directions.


The different styles of debate, which are taught and used in Debate Club, include Canadian National Debate Format, British Parliamentary, and Cross-Examination. 

“We’re always looking for more people. People may be noisy but not scary,” said Ms. Easton, who welcomes students from every skill range.


Whether it is practicing for Regionals, or doing routines of “Hot Seat”, debaters are always busy and with each round of debate, become more energized! It doesn’t matter if you’re an amateur or an expert, an introvert or an extrovert, you will always be welcome in Debate Club.