Branksome Hall News

Grade 11 Student Debaters Make it All the Way to Cambridge

This year has been a big one for student debaters Hao and Liz, who have attended many debating tournaments together. In March, they attended the virtual Senior Provincial Debating Championships, placing 4th out of 36 teams.
When reflecting on the experience, Hao said, “Senior Championships was a pretty challenging experience. It was really exhilarating to face very strong teams, especially because this particular debate format (Canadian National Debate Format) requires much more direct engagement with your opponents.”

At the Championships, Hao explained that there was a prepared motion about the current circumstances in Ukraine. “We all debated whether or not NATO should send additional troops to the Eastern European border. Preparing this motion with Mrs. Nolan and Georgia (Branksome’s debate mentor from the University of Toronto) was an incredibly informative experience because, in order to build a strong case, we needed to research and understand the incentives, capabilities, and obligations of all actors involved—such as NATO, Ukraine, Russia, and each of their allies.”

Liz also reflected on the Ukraine motion, saying, “The prepared motion about Ukraine was a difficult, sensitive topic, and we wanted to cover it with a high degree of respect and complexity. However, just as we spent an hour developing an argument about deterring Russia from invading Ukraine, Russia decided to invade Ukraine the next day. The entire preparation experience was a rollercoaster of emotions.”
Hao and Liz made it all the way to the semifinal rounds and qualified for Nationals. “Elizabeth and I were the only two female competitors in the elimination rounds, which was quite a meaningful achievement for us. Although we were disappointed that we lost in the semifinals rounds, we still qualified for nationals—having only lost one round out of a total of six.”

Hao and Liz's success at the Senior Provincials Championship was not just a flash in the pan. Because of Hao and Liz’s previous success at the National British Parliamentary Championships—they finished an impressive fourth nationally—this allowed them to qualify to attend the prestigious Cambridge Schools Debate Finals Competition, which took place on March 20, 2022.

Leading up to visiting Cambridge, Hao was excited, despite the competition being in a virtual format. “Sadly, we won’t be able to visit Cambridge in-person, but it’s still very exciting that we will be representing Canada, even if it’s just over the Internet. Cambridge will be incredibly competitive, but I am really looking forward to competing against debaters that I have never met before.”

Elizabeth also shared her excitement, saying, “In terms of Cambridge, while I may not be excited to wake up at 3 a.m., I am excited to engage with some of the strongest debaters from different nations. I believe this experience will not only elevate my own debate skills, but also expose me to different perspectives and debating styles from all around the world. Unfortunately, we’ll be attending Cambridge online through Zoom. We had been looking forward to sipping on tea and eating scones after a long day of debating, but alas it wasn’t meant to be. Hopefully next year we can go to either Cambridge or Oxford in person!”
Debate Coach Grace Nolan is proud of Hao and Liz for making it to Cambridge. “Hao and Liz worked incredibly hard to get to the tournament and they were one of five Canadian teams to debate at one of the top universities in the world.”

At the competition, they placed 22nd out of 64 teams. Of the Canadian schools participating, the Branksome duo were third.

Congratulations to Hao and Liz for all of their hard work.

Land Acknowledgement

We wish to acknowledge this land on which Branksome operates. For thousands of years, it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work and go to school on this land.

Branksome Hall

Branksome Hall
10 Elm Ave, Toronto, ON, Canada
M4W 1N4

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