Weeks of preparation and planning by almost 50 high-school and middle-school students and their coaches were finally realised at the Conyers Inter-Schools Debate Tournament. Hosted at St Ignatius School, it is now the largest single-day debating event in the Cayman school calendar.
The event saw all public and private schools in the Cayman Islands go head to head with the resolution “Torture is justifiable to combat terrorism”, for which teams had to prepare an argument for both sides. There were two impromptu rounds, on education and technology, addressing whether ‘Smart Technology Is Making Us Dumb’, if ‘The Traditional Classroom is Obsolete’, and whether ‘Cash Bonuses Ought To Be Paid For Good Grades’.
Over 30 members of the community including lawyers, accountants and parents volunteered as judges. Matthew Tibbets, Accountant General and Christen Suckoo, Chief Officer for Education attended the tournament, as well as Hon. Alex Henderson who determined the overall winner. “I was impressed with the ability and enthusiasm of these young debaters. Oral advocacy skills are important in law, politics, diplomacy and business. The experience of engaging in a structured debate before a large audience is invaluable,” commented the Hon. Alex Henderson.
For the third time in four tournaments, St. Ignatius was the overall winner. Debating in the competitive division, the team of Elijah Samson and Sarah Jackson won first place, followed by Rafael McKenzie and Chadene Brooks of John Gray High School in second place.
For the fourth event, Conyers introduced a novice division for younger students from Years 9 and 10. While the focus of the novice division was less competitive and more instructional, it was still in an inter-school, competitive setting. Speaking from the event, Sarah Goring of Conyers’ HR team said: “Conyers is committed to supporting students of all ages. The Inter-school debate series has flourished over the past year. By offering this new division, we are engaging with students at a younger age and presenting a platform for them to practice their spoken word. The power of speech and persuasion is something which our lawyers use in their careers daily. This is a skill that we are proud to be able to support.”
Cayman International School won the novice division, with Tahiti Seymour taking first place. CIS also took the top four speaker positions.
Fraser Hughes, a Conyers’ litigation Partner, said: “We are pleased this event is so popular. Debating builds skills that go far beyond creating future politicians and lawyers. It teaches students to think and structure arguments in an organised and persuasive manner. Improving the ability to think and persuade creates an educational foundation that is transferable to all kinds of careers and situations. Public speaking is well-known as one of the greatest fears of humanity. Learning to overcome that fear is also invaluable and will follow these kids their whole lives.”
The next Conyers Inter-Schools Debate Tournament is scheduled to be held in the fall of this year.