The Conyers Inter-Schools Debate Tournament celebrated a milestone on Tuesday, 11 February with its 10th consecutive tournament in just five years.

The tournament took place at Cayman Prep and High School and saw 52 students in teams from John Gray High School, Cayman International School, St. Ignatius Catholic School, and Cayman Prep and High School compete in two divisions, Novice and Open, over three initial rounds where they debated issues ranging from whether parliaments should reserve seats for candidates younger than 30 years of age, to whether individuals should have to pass a political general knowledge test in order to vote, to whether cruise ships should ban offensive clothing.

The final round of debate was judged by the Hon. Madam Justice Carter of the Cayman Islands Grand Court, and took place on stage in front of the other students, judges, coaches and parents. The top two teams debated the topical resolution “This House would allow all of a territory’s/country’s residents (i.e. citizens and non-citizen residents) to vote in elections or referenda.” By a narrow margin, the winners of the debate were the team from CIS, Sadie Finch and Thomas Dickens, and the Runner Up Team from John Gray comprised Monét Whitter and Naja Beach. The top teams and speakers were as follows:

Open Division Team Awards

  • Sadie Finch and Thomas Dickens, Cayman International School, First Place Team
  • Monét Whitter and Naja Beach, John Gray High School, Second Place Team
  • Kiron Dunn and Nazia Jacques, St. Ignatius Catholic School, Third Place Team

Open Division Individual Awards

  • Naja Beach, John Gray High School, Best Speaker
  • Sadie Finch, Cayman International School, Second Place Speaker
  • Sophie Ellison, Cayman Prep and High School, Third Place Speaker

Novice Division Team Awards

  • Cornelia Ecke and Hannah Bodden, St. Ignatius Catholic School, First Place Team
  • Jack Coleman and Josh Cowell, Cayman International School, Second Place Team
  • Ainsley Imparato and Oriela Dzaghgouni, Cayman International School, Third Place Team

Novice Division Individual Awards

  • Hannah Bodden, St. Ignatius Catholic School, Best Speaker
  • Josh Cowell, Cayman International School, Second Place Speaker
  • Jack Coleman, Cayman International School. Third Place Speaker

To celebrate the milestone 10th debating tournament, His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper graciously hosted a reception for debaters, coaches, and judges at Government House on the next evening.

Sponsored by law firm, Conyers, the Conyers Inter-Schools Debate is the only interschool debating tournament in the Cayman Islands. The tournament was founded and organized by Tournament Director Ian Whan-Tong, and is sustained by a large team of volunteer judges (drawn mainly from the local legal and business community), coaches, teachers, with support from the judiciary and government and legislative leaders.

Ian Whan-Tong commented, “Debating promotes clarity of thought, critical thinking, communication skills, and confidence. These skills are even rarer now and yet needed even more, given that social media platforms like Twitter and Snapchat are so pervasive and discourage these very habits,” Mr. Whan Tong said. He continued, “We are grateful that so many in our community value the skills of oracy and are prepared to make this opportunity available for all students of our Islands.”

“Conyers is proud to sponsor initiatives like the InterSchool-Debate that give students the opportunity to develop their analytical skills and a platform to showcase them,” said, Craig Fulton, Partner at Conyers and volunteer coach for Cayman International School’s debate team. “We’d like to extend a sincere thanks to Ian Whan-Tong and all of the judges, parents and teachers who have supported this programme since its inception and we look forward to the next session.”

Since its inception in October 2015, more than 215 different high school students representing all local secondary schools have debated over 40 different resolutions in the course of over 330 individual competitive inter-school debates. The 11th Conyers Inter-School Debate will be held in the Fall of 2020.

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