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BHS tops in national debate tournament

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Senior school winners in the Bermuda Debate Society's 27th annual competition was the BHS Team A, consisiting of Lillian Griffiths, Brianna Correia, and Ashleigh Tomkins. On the right is coach Harvey Cornish

Bermuda High School swept the board at Saturday’s 27th Annual National Schools’ Debate Tournament, winning both the senior and middle school awards.

The event saw 21 teams from 9 schools — a total of 63 debaters — participate in the daylong competition, which involved three preliminary rounds followed by a final round.

The prepared motion for the senior school level was “This House supports mandatory voting in government elections” while the middle school teams debated “This House would abolish zoos”.

“This House would ban fast food restaurants” was debated by both levels in the third round, which was an impromptu round.

Following the three preliminary rounds, the grand final for seniors was contested by BHS Team A and BHS Team B. The middle school level saw BHS B debating Somersfield Academy’s Team B.

BHS A — consisting of Lillian Griffiths, Brianna Correia, and Ashleigh Tomkins — were rewarded with the Victoria Cox Memorial Trophy. They were coached by Harvey Cornish.

BHS B — made up of Saxon Davis, Cerra Simmons, and Sophia Marsh — got the Bermuda Junior Service League Trophy as runners-up.

In the middle school contest, Leila Prado, Leahnae Morton-Richardson, and Gabriela Madeiros led BHS B to victory, after being coached by Robert Higson.

The CNA Butterfield & Son Trophy for the runners-up went to Somersfield’s Isabel Roe, Feven Brewster, and Xavier Lee.

Sierra Brangman of The Berkeley Institute’s Team A won both the top individual speaker prizes for the senior school level. Her high scores in the prepared motion rounds led to her winning the Victoria Cox Memorial Plate.

For the highest individual speaking score in the impromptu round, Sierra was awarded the Michelle Outerbridge Memorial Plaque.

Rounding out the top five individual speakers at senior level were Ashleigh Tomkins of BHS Team A, Tyrese Coakley of The Berkeley Institute Team A, Sophia Marsh of BHS Team B, and Yasser Baia of The Berkeley Institute Team A.

The top individual speaking score at middle school level was achieved by Kristy Sanchez of BHS Team A. She received the Bermuda Junior Service League Plate.

Behind Kristy were Leila Prado (BHS Team B), Raina De Fontes (Dynamic Debaters & Learners Team A), Ywione Darrell (Dynamic Debaters & Learners Team A), and Noah De Silva (Warwick Academy Team A).

The first National Schools’ Debate Tournament was held in 1989 as a community service project launched by the Bermuda Junior Service League under president Victoria Cox. The project’s mission dtatement was to provide a forum in which all secondary school students island wide could come together and participate in non athletic competition.

The Bermuda Debate Society, founded in 1990, is charged with promoting and fostering the art of debate island-wide through education and the organisation of debate-related activities.

“The BDS Board believes all debaters have taken away skills that benefit them in school and in general life,” said a BDS spokesperson. “Many past debaters are now involved with debating in Bermuda, such as president of the BDS, Akilah Beckles, who also acted as Chair of Judges and Coaches for the Tournament.

“Trevor Leitch, another former debater, was Tournament Convenor. BDS Board members Christianna Dakin, Marisa Sharpe, Susan Behrens and Gladstone Thompson carried out roles as Facilities Liaison, Catering Manager, Team Registrar, and Materials Manager, respectively.

“The Board members of the BDS are especially grateful to those who volunteered their time to participate as judges in this tournament, without whom the students’ debating skills could not be assessed. Catering for the tournament was provided with the generous support of donations made to the BDS by the English Speaking Union, John Barritt & Son Ltd, and The Marketplace Ltd.”

Bermuda High School Team B, runners-up at the weekend's Bermuda Debate Society competition
The Berkeley Institute and CedarBridge Academy teams competing at Saturday's debate competition
The BHS B middle school team
The middle school finalists, BHS B, back row, and Somersfield Academy