Not up for debate

[attach]5557[/attach]There’s no debating the fact Kathleen Chen and Jordyn Smith can get their points across.

The grade 8 and grade 9 students from TFS, formerly known as Toronto French School, argued their way to a win at the winter edition of the Junior Fulford Cup.

Although it was the pair’s first time competing at that particular debating competition, co-coach Krista Bryndza said they represented the school well.

“They work extremely hard and I’m always incredibly impressed by their willingness frankly,” said Bryndza, who also works as a guidance counsellor at the school. “They’re willing to do it and they actually love it. They like standing in front of people and speaking.”

Chen and Smith participated in two sets of debates during the daylong competition. First, they had to argue both sides of the issue of whether or not Canada should use nuclear power to produce energy, a topic they were given before the competition.

“This research is done entirely after school on their own time,” Bryndza said. “None of this is done within school time and it’s a lot of work.”

As several debates are held concurrently, though in separate rooms, there are few spectators. However, the moderator, the panel of three judges and the pressure of competition can still make one’s hands sweat.

“The first debate is always the worst,” said Smith. “Not the worst that you don’t do as well but it’s the most nerve racking. Then you get past it and it gets more fun.”

The topic of the second debate is a surprise and participants are given 30 minutes to prepare their arguments. This winter the debaters had to weigh obeying the rules against having fun.

“I think impromptu is fun because not everyone knows exactly what they’re doing,” said Smith. “Everyone’s a bit nervous. Everyone doesn’t know exactly what they’re saying the whole time but you figure it out.”

At the Fulford Cup, an invitational competition between Ontario independent schools, students are paired up with a peer from one of the competing schools therefore Chen and Smith were not on the same team. Their individual scores were tallied up and combined for the top mark.

“I was surprised,” said Chen. “I never won a trophy before.”

But another trophy may be in sight soon as Chen and Smith were preparing for the Ontario Student Debating Union junior provincial championship in Oakville. Although their bus to the debate leaves at 7 a.m., Chen and Smith said they’re looking forward to it.

“At the end of the day you’re exhausted,” Chen said. “But it’s worth it.”