St Mary's College Ipswich has organised a new debating competition, giving Ipswich students the opportunity to practise their skills locally.
Created by St Mary's College Cultural Program Leader, Courtney Fook and Debating Coordinator at St Mary's College Eryn Gower, the competition will be known as Ipswich Secondary Schools' Debating Competition.
“Eryn and I decided to create this competition as there was no opportunity in the local area for our students to be involved in debating," Ms Fook said.
Covid-19 restrictions meant local competitions were cancelled last year. These were not re-established in 2021. Other debating competitions for schools take place late in the evening, with different venues all across south-east Queensland each week, usually around Brisbane CBD. This is not practical for many Ipswich students.
The competition will involve students from Ipswich Girls Grammar School, St Edmund's College, West Moreton Anglican College and St Augustine's College. Ms Fook said the competition may be opened up to other schools in the future.
Year 12 St Mary's student Katie George said she was very excited about the competition, and grateful to Ms Fook and Ms Gower for their organisation.
“Debating is something I really value getting the opportunity to do and I would have been quite upset if I wasn't able to debate in my final year as a St Mary's College student," Katie said. “Although we were able to debate within our school last year, it is not the same as debating competitively against different people from different schools."
“I enjoy debating because it gives me a creative way to explore different persepctives and my place in the world. It also helps me to build my confidence and public speaking skills, and has helped bring me out of my shell throughout high school," Katie said.
More experienced St Mary's debaters in Years 11 and 12 will have the opportunity to extend their skills, working as adjudicators for Junior (Year 7 and 8) debates. These students have received training from the Queensland Debating Union.
Debating helps students develop their teamwork skills, build the ability to think laterally and grow their communication skills, all while having fun. Students also fine tune their public speaking skills, benefiting them across all of their subjects.
“We want to build a community of debaters where students grow in their pubic speaking confidence and have the opportunity to network with likeminded individuals. We hope that this competition will strengthen the relationships between our schools, staff and students, while giving our students the opportunity to hone their debating skills," Ms Fook said.
The first debates in the Ipswich Secondary School's Debating Competition, facilitated by St Mary's College, will be held on 10 May.
Pictured: Back – Jasmine O'Malley, St Mary's College Cultural Program Leader Courtney Fook, St Mary's College Debating Coordinator Eryn Gower, Katie George; Front – Ashleigh Van Meurs, Hannah Nugent, Emma Small.