Kuranui College year 10 student Aimee Clouston was awarded Best Junior Speaker in the region’s debating championship held this weekend in Wellington.
For the first time, debating students from Kuranui College were invited to the Wellington Regional Debating Championship and in highly competitive debates against senior students from all across the region, the Kuranui teams of primarily Year 10 students performed outstandingly, with their mixed team placing fifth out of 30 teams.
“I think it’s the first time we’ve ever entered the Wellington Regionals, so that’s pretty exciting,” explained Kuranui Head of English, Kathryn Homes. “For many years organised debating didn’t take place here.”
She strongly believes that the college’s innovative IGNITE program has contributed to the success of the students. “I feel that interest has come through the How to Win an Argument classes from last year. Almost all of the students involved during the weekend were in the How to Win an Argument class.”
“They are already asking me about how that might translate into a Level 1 course for them, which is something we are thinking about this year,” said Homes.
Clouston has been interested in literature and politics since she was young, and found debating to be a good way to explore her interests. “Considering I’m into drama and things, I need to get better at improv, and it was just generally a good way to involve all of my interests.
“I took debating in my first year at Kuranui, so there’s obviously a lot of opportunities here, and we were encouraged, but Mrs Homes really helped this year, especially with the 30-minute prep task.”
None of the students had been involved in unprepared debates before. “I really liked it. I thought it was a bit stressful, considering I had only done debates where I had three weeks to prepare, and 30 minutes versus three weeks is quite a big difference, but it was good. I would definitely recommend it,” said Clouston.
“I think the hardest thing for me personally, considering I am not very good at improv, and I prefer written script, was definitely the fact that I didn’t have enough time to write my own scripts, and had to go off bullet points, meaning I had to really think on my feet. I think I’ve definitely got better improv skills because of it.”
Student enjoyment was at the forefront with Kuranui students treating the event as a learning opportunity, rather than something they had to win. “Our little group had a lot of fun. But I think also, when it comes to the debates, even when you’re in a debate you’re not sure you’re going to win,” Clouston added.
All of the Kuranui students were impressed by the weekend, commenting that “It was much more fun than I thought it would be.” Despite losing their first four debates, the Kuranui Junior-only team refused to be disheartened, coming back to win their final debate against Solway College.
“Most teams were made up of year 13, or year 12 and 13 students. Whereas, our junior college students have an amazing opportunity now that they’ve seen it, they know what they’re aiming for,” remarked Homes.
The speakers will be representing the college in the Wairarapa Regional Debating Competition later in the year, and are looking forward to using their debating skills more in the future.
Meg Hunter – Year 10;
Charlie O’Connell – Year 10
; Joseph Laybourn – Year 10
Mixed team: Katie Taylor – Year 10 ; Aimee Clouston – Year 10; Caelum Greaves – Year 13