Debate & Speech Season Recap

By Ms. Tracey Lee and Ms. Lindsay Haider, Debate and Model UN Coaches
In the past six weeks, the debate season has wrapped up with a number of significant achievements for our debaters. In April, the senior team of Vivian Zhang ’19 and Emily Hardy ’19 took on Canada’s finest in the Canadian Senior National Debating Championships. Hosted by Sacred Heart School in Halifax, the event welcomed the top teams from all ten provinces. After six preliminary rounds of debate, Emily and Vivian were leading the pack and advanced to the out rounds as the top-ranked team. Although eliminated in the quarterfinals, this dynamic duo represented WPGA with grace and debating excellence. Vivian will represent WPGA one more time this summer as a member of the Canadian National Debate Team, who will compete at the World Schools Championship in Bangkok, Thailand.
On the heels of Senior Nationals, the national team tryouts for the 2020 team was also held in Halifax. Alison Lee ’20 was one of six debaters from BC who competed at this event, with the top eight students advancing to the Team Canada development squad. We are pleased to announce that Alison was selected to the 2020 team; she is the 15th WPGA student to advance to this elite level of competition.
Juniors at Cambridge
While the senior debaters shone at home, junior debaters Rafeeq Kassam-Jiwani ’22 and Annushka Agarwal ’22 travelled far from home to compete at the International Competition for Young Debaters (ICYD), held annually at Cambridge University. The top three Canadian junior teams had qualified for this event from Canadian BP Nationals. Rafeeq and Annushka impressed the UK judges in the preliminary rounds, ranking 4th overall at the end of those rounds to advance directly to the semifinals. Although they were unable to continue on to the finals, a top five standing in the UK’s premier championship for junior debaters from all over the Commonwealth was a satisfying achievement.
Canadian Junior National Speech Competition
Each year, WPGA plays host to the top junior public speakers in the country. After eight rounds of competition in four speech and debate categories, the top eight speakers in each event advance to the finals in each category. Congratulations to Chelsea Hu ’23 and Rafeeq Kassam-Jiwani ’22, who advanced to the debate finals (Rafeeq also advanced to the persuasive speaking finals), and to Zara Smith ’22, who advanced to the solo acting finals. Zara and Rafeeq ended up placing 1st overall in their respective finals and Rafeeq was crowned Top Overall Speaker in Canada for his impressive performance across all categories. A huge thank-you to the students, parents and staff members who volunteered as judges, timekeepers and moderators at this event.
What a season! What a team! Kudos to all of our debaters, speakers and Model UNers who represented WPGA so well in all areas of competition. They were fantastic ambassadors for our school and our programs.