Students at the Claudia Creque Educational Centre participate in the first round of the Inter-Secondary School Debate on Monday. They advanced to the semi-finals on Feb. 19. Photo: ZARRIN TASNIM AHMED

Spirited debate over whether parents should be held responsible for their children’s illegal behaviour and whether skin bleaching is a direct result of racism took place this week as students passionately defended opposing views.

The first preliminary round of the Inter-Secondary School Debate kicked off Monday night at the Althea Scatliffe Primary School courtyard with two winners coming out on top.

Cedar International School and Claudia Creque Educational Centre will move on to the semi-final round of the debates, which will take place on Feb. 19.

The second round of the preliminaries resumes tonight with a debate between Elmore Stoutt High School and Bregado Flax Educational Centre.

First debate

On Monday, Jaleel Cameron, Hailey Chomiak and Amelia Adamson represented Cedar International School, while Chris-Tiyah Roberts, Venus Williams and Nyobi Padmore represented St. George’s Secondary School in the first debate of the night.

The first speaker, Ms.Adamson, had eight minutes to argue that parents should be held responsible when their children break the law, and after helping her team to the win she was named best speaker in the round of debate.

Ms. Adams decided to join the debate team last year after receiving encouragement from her teacher. Despite meltdowns and rigorous practice, she said, debate has been a great experience.

“Nothing will ever prepare you for how intimidating it is, but it’s so key to know public speaking skills, whether it’s debate or just public speaking in general, because you will always use that,” she explained. “I think [debate] is a great opportunity that everyone should do because we don’t get a lot of chances like this.”

This is her second year debating for Cedar, which last year placed second in the finals after losing to ESHS, the defending champions.

The second debate

Also on Monday, Claudia Creque Educational Centre, represented by Angelina Evans, Liali Rosario and Gorcia Johnson, debated Kyle Grant, Alyssa Butler and Chevan Richards of the Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies.

They argued over whether or not the popularity of skin lightening is a testament to the racism and colourism in Caribbean society.

Ms. Johnson, the first speaker, explained that skin-bleaching is prevalent in societies that have a deep-rooted history of slavery and racism, and that it is used to elevate social status. Such societies, she said, are found in Latin America, India and the Caribbean.

Claudia Creque advanced to the semi-finals after winning the debate, and Ms. Evans won best speaker in the round.

The format

The students had two weeks to prepare their points, and each team consisted of three speakers with specific roles.

The first speaker had eight minutes to introduce the group’s argument and deliver key points while setting the stage for the second speaker. The second speaker had five minutes to touch on two or three key points before wrapping up the argument.

After a five-minute break where both sides had an opportunity to gather their thoughts, the final speaker delivered a rebuttal to the opposition’s argument.

After each debate, judges deliberated before deciding the winner and best speaker.

Before delivering their verdict, however, they shared constructive criticism with both teams.

Want to go?
Preliminaries: Tonight at the Althea Scatliffe Primary School at 5:30 p.m.
Semi-finals: Feb. 19 at the Althea Scatliffe Primary School at 5:30 p.m.
Finals: March 11 at the Althea Scatliffe Primary School at 6 p.m.