Students participated in all five divisions of the competition, which was held at Waverly College in Sydney.
The winners of the diocesan competition were:
- Year 7 – All Saints’ College, Maitland
- Year 8 - St Mary’s Catholic College, Gateshead
- Year 9 - St Mary’s Catholic College, Gateshead
- Year 10 - San Clemente High School, Mayfield
- Year 11 – St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton
The first round of the competition was a prepared debate in which all students demonstrated confidence and strength in their public speaking skills.
The Stage 4 topic was That it is better to be rich than smart. The Year 7 team from All Saints’ College consisted of Lily Shaw, Larissa Stubbings and Ryan Hodges who debated the negative against Mount St Patrick College, Murwillumbah.
The Year 8 team from St Mary’s Catholic College comprised of Patrick Howlett, Jack Erby and Cian O’Hagan and were the affirmative team against St Paul’s College in Kempsey. Both teams presented sound and confident arguments but St Mary’s were unsuccessful in proceeding to the next round.
The Stage 5 topic was That all transport should use alternative energy. Our diocese was represented in Year 9 by St Mary’s Catholic College whose team consisted of Jodi Govender, Leah O’Hagan and Jack Ollerton. The team debated the affirmative and were successful against Mackillop College in Bathurst.
The Year 10 team from San Clemente consisted of Annabelle Jones, Angela Teah-Wilson and Demaris Humphries who acted as the affirmative against St John the Evangelist in Nowra and despite presenting strong arguments, did not progress to the second round.
The senior topic was That we’re caught in the web. Our diocese was represented by St Francis Xavier’s College students Olga Scorer, Hannah Reed and Summer Harrison, who debated rigorously as the affirmative to defeat Mount St Patrick College in Murwillumbah and progressed to round two.
The second round was an impromptu debate where students from Year 9 at St Mary’s and Year 11 at St Francis Xavier’s represented our diocese.
The Year 9 impromptu debate topic was We review reality rather than live it. This was a hotly contested debate, with the St Mary’s team arguing the negative and being awarded the debate against Mount St Patrick College and taking the title of Year 9 Country Champions.
The senior impromptu debate topic was That our leaders are to blame. Despite the presentation of clever arguments and many relevant examples, the St Francis Xavier’s team were narrowly defeated.
The final round for the day saw the country finalists debate against the finalists from the Catholic Schools Metropolitan Debating Competition to determine the state champion for each year group.
In this championship round, our Year 9 team from St Mary’s Catholic College debated the negative against Santa Sabina College in Strathfield with the topic, The voting age should be lowered.
The St Mary’s team presented well-articulated arguments and effective rebuttals resulting in the team being awarded the debate and crowned the Catholic Secondary Schools Year 9 State Debating Champion. This is an excellent achievement and the St Mary’s Year 9 team is to be heartily congratulated.
Congratulations also to all students who represented their school and the diocese in the competition.
The art of debating is a wonderful skill that is so relevant in this 21st century. All students certainly displayed their expertise in critical and creative thinking, articulation of well-structured and cohesive arguments and rebuttals, team work, public speaking and thinking on your feet.
The students worked hard in preparing for the competition and like all school competitions, were supported by very committed and hardworking teachers.
A special thanks goes to the teacher/coaches including Dianne Bond (ASC, Maitland), Cynthia Hendriks and Alexandra Watts (St Mary’s, Gateshead), Pippa Hartshorne (San Clemente, Mayfield) and Cecilia Millen and Clare Murphy (SFX, Hamilton).
Photography by Martin Vilimovsky, Public Speaking and Debating Coordinator at Holy Spirit Catholic College, Lakemba