Written by Cedarbrae students
Cedarbrae students participated in an event hosted by the Black Community Police Consultative Committee called The Great Debate. Coming into the event with the pressure of being the defending champions frayed our nerves as this year much was different from last year. The first change we noticed was the in the design of the venue. We were all expecting an informal setup like last year but were shocked when we saw the neatly decorated tables with glass jars and cutlery wrapped skillfully in soft napkins. After seeing the room we were expecting the guests to walk in clothed in suits and evening dresses but to our relief the room soon filled up with noisy high school students (Cedarbrae’s students being the noisiest of all) and casually dressed men and women. By this point we were all quite comfortable. There was an entertainment segment before the mini debates, which also helped to ease our nerves.
The first event of the day before the Great Debate started was a series of mini debates. The students in the room were placed into groups of about a dozen and were to choose topics to debate amongst themselves. This was the portion of the day many of us were looking forward to the most. The debates were exciting and it allowed us a chance to forget about the main debate that was coming up soon. And soon it did come. By one o’clock, right after lunch, we were seated in debater’s quarters scrambling to organize our
The opponents seemed more prepared than us. The Agincourt students were seated comfortably on the other side of the room the boys tightening their ties and the girls smoothing out their dresses ready to go. The timing for each segment was less than ideal but before we could focus on this the debate began. Agincourt was first. Five minutes into their opening the bell rang and abruptly the girl with the microphone was forced to stop halfway through her point. It was our turn now. Learning from the mistake of our opponents we realized that in order for each person on the team to speak we had to keep our points below a minute each. Tormented by my nerves, I spoke as quickly as possible to ensure we didn’t go over the time limit. My other teammates seemed to be doing the same and we signaled to each other when one person spoke for too long. We were a bit intimidated seeing that the other team appeared to be more prepared than us and had in-depth points and a strong vocabulary to push their points across the room to the audience voters. We were convinced that we had lost.
We sat like accused waiting for a verdict for twenty minutes until one of the judges unfolded a paper and approached the microphone. He wasted no time. The decision was announced. We won! We were all excited. Even though I was over flowing with excitement, the victory felt undeserved because the other team seemed so well prepared. Nevertheless, we were all excited that we had won. I was finally able to relax. Some say winning isn’t everything but at that moment it indeed felt like everything to me. It was an amazing experience and I would love to be able to do it again.
Ronaldson and Denil
During the debate I got to experience many new things. I got to meet new people, learn how to debate and discuss interesting and intellectually stimulating topics. During the presentations I enjoyed listening to the many guest speakers, such as the lawyers, the baker, the police officers and the poet and hearing their life stories. I found the poet’s speech to be very inspirational and the lawyers also gave me the motivation to pursue a career in law because of how a lawyer can make a difference in people’s lives. Their speeches made me realize that, in the future, I also want to make a difference and I felt that the field of law was perfect for me. Also, during the debate I met many other students and I got a good understanding of how debating works.
At first I was shy but when working with my group to form an argument I felt very relaxed. I even made many new friends who I still talk to now. During the mini debates I learned many new things like how to debate, how to state my facts and how to end my argument. The debates were fun and the experience has taught me to be more confident. I found the topics to be interesting and I couldn’t wait to start. One of the debate topics I took part in was about television viewing. My group had to argue that television viewing could be a positive experience in children’s lives. Surprisingly, my team won because of the strength of our arguments.
I enjoyed the fact that many intellectual young minds from different backgrounds came together to talk about things that were going on in today’s society. Although it was a competition and our school won, I still felt that at the end of the day we were all winners. In conclusion, because of The Great Debate I got a chance to experience new things, meet new people, and discuss new and interesting topics. I found the event to be an amazing learning experience and I can’t wait to take part in it next year.
Sabrina (Grade 10 student)