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Eighth grade tackles timely issues for annual debates

Eighth grade tackles timely issues for annual debates

One of the culminating eighth grade experiences is the annual debate unit, which is designed to educate students on their responsibility as global citizens and emphasizes the significance of civil discourse, public speaking, and utilizing one's voice to make a positive impact on our world. Students delve into topics such as fossil fuel extraction, national service, and student debt relief and spend a week collaborating on arguments, developing logical points, and thinking of rebuttals before facing off in Cor Unum for the grand conclusion. 

While students strengthen many transferable skills for high school and beyond, Stuart's girls' school environment offers additional advantages. "Our girls are both uniquely positioned to succeed in a debating environment, and they are uniquely positioned to gain valuable skills like collaboration, teamwork, and mutual support," noted Jess Kosek. "As girls' school educators, we are committed to empowering students to raise their voices and confidently express their opinions in an educated way. It demonstrates to their peers and to the people around them that their voices matter and can make a difference in the world."

This experience also fosters greater self-awareness of individual strengths and the importance of understanding and valuing others' perspectives. Three students shared their takeaways from the experience: 

  • Alice: "I enjoyed learning about public speaking and coming up with arguments and practicing with my partner. I just like knowing that debating is going to help me so much in my future."
  • Emme: I loved it. It helped build a relationship with my partner and helped build me as a person. I learned how people might see things differently and how I can be less biased. The most fun part for me was planning for the rebuttals and having a response ready for the other side."
  • Sophie: "For me, it was learning how to have discussions where you disagree with someone without getting angry. I also learned that I am a planner, whereas my partner is great at spontaneity. I have learned throughout this year—for tests and quizzes, and especially with debate—that planning ahead is better."

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