From 22 to 23 January, Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute’s Debate Club attended the Queen’s High Schools Debating Championship. Five teams were sent on behalf of the school, consisting of students from Grade 9 to Grade 12.

Due to limited availability, along with great interest in the tournament, tryouts were held on 17 December to determine which teams would represent the school . A total of nine teams tried out, judged by 2021 MGCI Debate Club president and executive Akil Huang and Conner Lee respectively. In the end, five teams were chosen and began preparing for the tournament. 

While the debaters attended their weekly debate practices, they also began practicing specifically for this competition two weeks in advance. They went through several topics–ranging from economic issues to those of international relations–and debated many rounds to familiarize themselves with the themes likely to be discussed at Queen’s. 

Finally, the long-awaited day of the tournament came. On the morning of, the attending MGCI teams joined a voice call as a final get-together before the tournament. They briefly went over the tournament’s logistics, passed on last minute tips, and pumped each other up. The tournament was about to begin.

Teams were randomly slotted in the first round of the tournament. When asked about his thoughts before the first round, Grade 10 student Jeremy Dai said, “I feel a little nervous. But, at the same time it will just be an enjoyable experience, so I’m not too stressed out. I’m excited!” Following the first round, MGCI teams pushed forward in the competition, with each round featuring different topics and other teams of the same calibre. By the end of the second day, all teams had debated in at least five rounds and collected helpful feedback from judges, along with points contributing to team rankings along the way. 

The event also included a free seminar about improving debate preparation skills guided by semi-finalist in the World Universities Debating Championship Naomi Panovka. Many of MGCI’s club members attended this seminar, taking notes and learning from her talk to improve in future rounds. 

The day wrapped up with the awards ceremony on Sunday evening. A special highlight from the MGCI teams that attended was the team GM LM, consisting of Grade 12 students Taira Mehta and Larissa Long, that placed ninth among two hundred-forty teams.

When reflecting on the experience as a whole, Grade 9 student Oriana Zhou said, “Overall, I thought that the tournament was fun, even though some parts were quite challenging.” Through the challenges, it was generally a positive and helpful experience for members of the MGCI Debate Club. 

“I am incredibly proud of how our debaters performed at this tournament,” said club president Larissa Long. “It was a challenging and highly competitive two days, and it was incredible watching them apply the skills we had practiced throughout the year, and reap the results of it. Many of these debaters have a lot of potential, and I look forward to seeing them at future tournaments.” This is the third debate tournament MGCI has attended this school year, and the club is planning on making its mark at more competitions throughout 2022, such as the Western Spring High School Tournament coming up in late February.