Covent Garden wins JOF Haynes debating competition

(Georgetown, November 9, 2017) – Covent Garden Secondary school emerged the champion of the 2017 JOF Hayes Inter-Secondary Schools debating competition.

In a keenly contested final at the Theatre Guild Playhouse today; the victorious team comprising Tenisha Evelyn, Aaliah Corlette, and Amabel Campbell amassed a score of 282 points, while the runners-up St. Ignatius Secondary recorded 279.3 points. The Region nine school was represented by Ave Thony, Kerion Ramscindo, and Amisha Ramdin.

The less than three points that separated the two teams is an indication of the competitive nature of the encounter between the two schools. The moot that was debated was a very topical one, “Crude oil is one of the main natural resources that can move Guyana from a developing to a developed country”. Covent Garden opposed the moot while St. Ignatius Secondary was the proposing school.

Commendations are in order for the Ministry of Education for choosing such technical subject matter for children of that age. It was evident from the arguments proffered, both teams did research and based their arguments on not only oratory displays but facts that were gleaned from reputable sources.

Watched by former Guyana Elections Commission Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally, Assistant Chief Education Officer (Nursery) Ms. Ingrid Trotman and other senior MOE officials and students the debaters gave skillful accounts of themselves.

When the battle lines were drawn the leader of the proposition Ave Thorny opened proceedings. Although she was a bit rushed at the beginning of her presentation, Thorny was confident and projected her voice across the venue. Coupled with that the hinterland student clearly did research and did not rely on a script as she delivered ‘off the cuff’.

In explaining her position on the moot, the young woman argued that crude oil has proven its worth in countries across the globe and it will be no different when oil begins to flow in Guyana by 2020. She said that the ‘oil money’ will be used to strengthen the ailing industries such as sugar, rice, and cash crop cultivations. The proposition leader noted that oil will not replace the traditional industries but rather, it will complement these same industries that are currently struggling for different reasons.

Her two colleagues Kerion Ramscindo and Amisha Ramdin underscored much of what their leader argued. Kerion Ramscindo, the lone male in the final and the second speaker was ‘cool, calm and collected’. He took his time and delivered a skillful presentation that received quite an ovation from the audience of mostly school children from across the regions.

When Covent Garden took to the podium it was very evident that the three young ladies were excellent orators. The leader Tenisha Evelyn set the scene for what was to come from her team. She argued that in the many years Guyana has been an independent state, there are many natural resources such as bauxite and sugar that has not lifted it to a developed country. She wondered how certain can we be that oil will aid in this regard.

Further, she pointed out that there are many countries that have large oil deposits and are no better off than when there was no oil wealth flowing. Like her colleagues, she labelled this belief of oil being the proverbial saviour of the economy as a ‘figment of people’s imagination’.

The second opposition speaker, Aaliah Corlette was impressive from the start, she had flare in the way she delivered her presentation.

Corlette gave the impression that she has been a debater for some time. She paid attention to her tone at different points in her presentation and paid attention to pronunciation and utilized of a range of words.

At this juncture of the competition, it would have been easy to conclude that there wasn’t anyone that could upstage Corlette as the best speaker. Those thoughts could not have been more wrong.

When Amabel Campbell took the microphone, she had everyone’s attention from the start. With a soothing, good speaking voice; she was clear with every word she uttered and her tone throughout her presentation was refreshing.  Campbell was by far the best speaker from among the six participants. And it was no surprise that she was adjudged best speaker at the end of the debate.

It was the third year in succession that a Region four school has won the JOF Haynes debating competition. In 2015 President’s College was champion and last year Annandale Secondary School emerged victors. The JOF Haynes debating competition is an annual MOE event that forms part of the calendar of activities for Education month.


(Story by Brushell Blackman and Photographs by Skeikel Rankin)


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