Students celebrated winning all three of their rounds in the latest heat of the London Junior Debating League. Third Former Mabel reports on the experience:
‘Huddled in the front foyer, adorned with scarves, gloves and coats, a group of debaters ranging from First to Second Form, patiently waited to board the coach that would deliver them to London for, some of them, their first debating competition. You would have thought that they would have divided themselves from the other years, especially the Sixth Formers but instead, each girl merged from year to year and I am still yet to see such a community where any year can hold a perfectly normal conversation with people two, three, four years older than themselves. Though you wouldn’t see it from afar, each individual has something in common with the others. They all have a passion for thinking on the spot, holding an argument and public speaking. There are timid looking First Formers that almost seem to become a different person once they stand up in front of a crowd; and there are teachers whose confidence and commitment in the debaters is unwavering. The coach journey down consisted of reviewing speeches and sharing encouraging words between debaters. When we arrived at Tiffin School, the nervousness was now mixed with a feeling of excitement and anticipation. We were led into the school’s one of a kind grand ballroom with rows of seats laid out, so the debaters could engage in preparation before the debate took place. Fifteen minutes later and it was time. One half of the girls went to debate as the opposition against Tiffin School and the other half went to debate as proposition against Francis Holland. The motion for both was ‘This house would make all schools co-educational’. There were many spectators for both debates but this didn’t intimidate the girls. Every debater delivered a fine, riveting speech that demonstrated the care and research that had gone into each one; and it paid off. Both teams won their debate against Tiffin and Francis Holland schools. But it didn’t end there: up next was the unprepared debate. Fifteen minutes before the debate took place, the girls were given their motion – ‘This house would ban the hunting of wild animals’, with Prior’s Field proposing. All preparation had to be done amongst the three girls taking part. No teachers, no internet, no research, no speeches-only bullet points. But nevertheless, each girl pleasantly surprised with structured arguments that they managed to develop in such a short time. And once again, they were successful. And they realised that they had more in common with the other debaters than they had thought. Only ten minutes after tea did they start to talk to the others and, soon after, a whole group of Prior’s Field and Francis Holland students had begun to congregate. When it got to 7:30pm, the girls waved goodbye and climbed aboard the coach, tired and having won all three debates. And when we arrived back at school an hour later, they were still chattering about their victories.’
The English Department was very proud to announce the winners of the ‘Freedom’ poetry competition: ‘With so many entries, making a decision was particularly difficult. In the end, after much deliberation, we decided that First Former Marnie should be declared the winner, with highly commended for fellow First Formers Georgia and Maisy. Well done. What we particularly liked in Marnie’s poem was not only the imagery of flight, but the dialogue – the idea that we can be coaxed towards accepting freedom.’
By Marnie A
Freedom makes you feel like a proud eagle
Soaring across the sky;
‘But what if I fall?’
But what if you fly, she said, don’t be shy.
Freedom smells like chimney smoke on Christmas
‘But what if I choke?’
But what if you don’t?
Freedom tastes like cotton candy at a steam fair.
‘That all sounds good, but I’m scared’
Well don’t be –
It’s better looking back on life and saying
‘I can’t believe I did that’
Than to say ‘I wish I did that.’
Come with me and we will fly
With the eagles
And be free.