Debate, Model UN and Public Speaking Update

By Ms. Tracey Lee, Debate and Model UN Coach
November was a very busy month for WPGA debaters, who competed at local and national level tournaments every weekend. The month started off with UBC’s annual high school debate tournament, the largest in Western Canada, with over 400 competitors from BC, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario. In the junior division, Edison Tan ‘21 and Vincent Gao ‘22 faced off against our own WPGA team of Rafeeq Kassam-Jiwani ’22 and Emma Miao ‘22 in the quarter finals. Edison and Vincent advanced to the semifinals, where they were eventually defeated by St. George’s juniors. In the senior division, Vivian Zhang ‘19 and her Team Canada partner, Naomi Panovka, advanced undefeated to the finals where they placed 2nd overall. It was strong showing for WPGA, with our debaters winning most of the top 5 awards in both junior and senior divisions.
A week later, 17 Model UN team members travelled to Montreal to compete at the SSUNS McGill Model UN, a conference of over 1,200 students from across Canada and around the world. Representing the countries of Mexico and Montenegro, our delegation included some of the youngest delegates at the conference (we had ten grade 9 students in a conference populated by senior students). Our students were focused, knowledgeable and persuasive in their committee sessions. Special recognition goes to Zara Smith ’22, who received a book award for her performance in SOCHUM for best embodying the spirit of Model United Nations and engaging her committee in an enthusiastic and proactive way. Congratulations also to Keely Aquilini ’19, our head delegate, who was recognized as the top delegate in her committee, the NHL, and received the Pierre Elliot Trudeau award for diplomatic finesse.
The month was capped off by our junior and senior debaters travelling to Toronto to compete at the Canadian British Parliamentary Championships. This event is the Canadian qualifier for teams to the Oxford and Cambridge Schools Debate Championships, two of the most prestigious events in the international debating community. Congratulations to Vivian Zhang ’19 and Alison Lee ‘19, who competed in a formidable senior category dominated by Team Canada members. Narrowly missing the break to advance to semifinals, our seniors were nonetheless ecstatic when we heard that juniors Rafeeq Kassam-Jiwani and Annushka Agarwal ’22 had advanced to the junior semifinals. Rafeeq and Annushka successfully defeated teams from University of Toronto Schools and Crofton House, thereby earning a spot in the finals. A nailbiting final ensued, resulting with our team taking the 2nd place ranking, narrowly losing to an Ontario team from White Oaks. Rafeeq and Annushka advance to the Cambridge Debates in April 2019 as one of the top three Canadian junior teams from this tournament.
Congratulations as well to our second junior team of Cadence Gunther ’22 and Chelsea Hu ’22, who were also competitive in the preliminary rounds.
The upcoming weekend marks our last tournament before the holiday break. Best of luck to our public speakers, who will compete at the BC Speech Provincials hosted by Mulgrave School on December 7 and 8. Stay tuned for the results!