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Early hours debates bear fruit for schoolgirl

Talking up a storm: McKenzie-Kohl Tuckett (Photograph supplied)

A schoolgirl who took part in a global debating competition with other teenagers until 5am has placed in the top 20.

McKenzie-Kohl Tuckett, 17, came 16th in this year’s World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships out of a field of more than 120 competitors.

The former Warwick Academy head girl also made it to the finals in the impromptu speaking and interpretative reading categories.

The virtual competition, held from April 23-26, was hosted by South Korea and required McKenzie-Kohl to debate between 11pm and 5am.

She admitted that the time difference threw up some problems.

But she added: “There’s no opportunity to sleep when it comes to a fascinating debate topic”.

McKenzie-Kohl said: “Because of how much I love public speaking and debate, I really just had to remind myself of the sacrifices that went into it – this happened to be one of them.”

She added: “It was really just proving to myself why I wanted to be here and understanding the significance of what I accomplished to get to that stage.

“I was very pleased with my performance.”

McKenzie-Kohl said: “The World Championships are highly competitive, so to qualify for finals in two categories was a true testament to the hard work and commitment that went into preparing for the event.

“To finish in the top twenty overall public speakers is amazing and such a meaningful way to end my high school public speaking journey.”

The World Championships allows high school pupils from English-speaking countries around the world to compete as individuals and in teams.

Participants must compete in four categories, which include persuasive speaking and parliamentary debate, and discuss topics that involve global problems.

McKenzie-Kohl, from Warwick, was accepted for the event after she competed in the smaller-scale International Independent Schools Public Speaking Championships.

The competition was held last October and is as a way for pupils to qualify for the World Championships.

McKenzie-Kohl place 3rd overall in the IISPSC dramatic interpretation category and also won the Balmoral Hall Trophy.

She was also crowned best overseas individual public speaker and was 8th in the public speaker category.

McKenzie-Kohl said the World Championships required critical thinking skills and general knowledge, as well eloquence and fast thinking.

She added she took part in the World Championships in 2019 and was placed 44th out of 105 competitors.

McKenzie-Kohl also qualified for the last year’s World Championships, scheduled to be held in Shanghai, China, but the event was axed because of Covid-19.

She said the cancellation was a disappointment, but that it inspired her to work twice as hard for this year’s event.

McKenzie-Kohl added: “It was really nice to reconnect with friends, albeit virtually, who I initially met while competing in other international competitions.”

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Published May 10, 2021 at 8:17 am (Updated May 10, 2021 at 2:17 pm)

Early hours debates bear fruit for schoolgirl

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