Points were argued passionately and positions staunchly defended at the inter-house debating contest which filled St Leonards School Hall on the afternoon of 22nd January. Competition was fierce, with two teams representing each of the four school houses as the speakers debated one of two propositions: “This House believes the criminal justice system should focus more on rehabilitation than retribution” by the Year 10 and Pre-IB students and “This House would ban mobiles phone socially, at school and in the workplace” by the Year 8 and Year 9 students.
St Nicholas House emerged the clear victor when both its junior team of Aenghus McGregor and Sonika Jaiganesh as well as the senior team of Finn Prosser and Beatrix Livesey Stevens were judged to have won their respective debates. The prizes for best floor speeches were awarded to Evan Moffitt and Jacquelyn Ryan, both Year 8. Although the competition is in its 11th year, this was the first time that members of the St Andrews Rotary Club served as its judges. The students were lucky to receive advice and feedback from Ann Baird, former singer and current music teacher at the University of St Andrews; Sylvia Donaldson, entrepreneur; and Arthur Griffiths, retired veterinary surgeon. Andrew Aitken, Club President, presented the prizes. The acting Rotary Debates Coordinator, Gordon Wowk, shared that “Rotary is committed to promoting public speaking to encourage youngsters to develop these skills, which are very useful in life and future careers”.
Mr Mark Dunkerley, Head of History, took the chair, while Mrs Vanessa Samuel, who teaches English, kept time. Such a packed house has helped to generate great excitement about Year 8’s Debating Extravaganza, scheduled for 6th February and organised by fellow English teacher Mick Kitson.