One of the culminating eighth experiences in the close to their Middle School years at Stuart is the annual debate unit. This exercise is part of their two-year civics curriculum that educates 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.. The unit required students to research resolutions on topics such as captive live animal displays, I.e. zoos and aquariums, social media, and universal healthcare in the United States.
The girls then spent a week collaborating on arguments, developing logical points, and thinking of rebuttals before facing off in Cor Unum for the grand conclusion.
Below are reflections from our students, who just happen to be elite members of the Middle School debate team. Future of speech and debate at Stuart is bright with these students driving the way.
Micah: From the 8th Grade Debate experience, I learned a lot about myself and the experience was definitely memorable. From myself, I learned that I need to put myself out there and engage more with my teammates. I felt underprepared, and I feel like if I hadn’t just depended on myself and worked more in arguments with my teammates, I would’ve done better. From this experience, I noticed that the bond between students in other groups flourished, making them stronger debaters. My advice to rising 8th graders who will do these debates are to not procrastinate, research lots, and work effectively with your teammates. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my experience with the 8th grade debates and I hope you all do well!
Vlada: I've learned many valuable lessons this year from my debate team. Eighth grade has been amazing, both as a part of our debate team and through the entire school year.
Debate has taught me the power of public speaking. Before I joined the debate team, I hated public speaking, and it would always scare me to express my thoughts to others. However, after joining the debate team, I learned how to express my thoughts clearly and persuasively. This skill is valuable not only through middle and high school but also through college and the rest of my life. Additionally, being a part of the Stuart debate team has taught me the importance of teamwork. Even in Congress, which is an individual event in some cases, I worked with my friends and classmates to fix my speeches and speaking skills. Whether it was through phone calls or during acad, we worked together to improve our arguments. This project has improved my ability to communicate with my partner because we needed to arrange our points so they don’t overlap. Finally, being on the debate team and having this project has shown me the opportunities our eighth graders have before they move to high school. Stuart’s debate program has given us a place where we can explore current issues and develop skills that will be important in high school and beyond. The chance to be part of a team, learn from our peers, and compete in tournaments has been an incredible experience.
In all, my time as a middle school debater has given me skills in public speaking and teamwork. I am very grateful for the opportunities I've had this year at Stuart. I encourage parents to consider telling their children about the debate team because it offers unique experiences that will prepare them with skills for high school and after.
Hadassah: I, Hadassah Broughton, have learned to speak my mind through this year of debate. I have found how to use my voice not just in the classroom but outside of school as well.
I have always known that I could share my opinion well; I thought that was only a perk I could use in a public space. Once I found out that with my strong voice, I could win trophies, I found how my perk was not all that common. I found that I can share my voice through poetry, which has led me to share my own story through Langston Hughes inspiring writings. I knew this perk of public speaking came naturally to me, but debate has truly humbled me into realizing not everyone has this blessing.
I found out that this blessing of public speaking was not all just out of luck; I had to work towards this too. I can thank Stuart for that as well. Through these eighth grade debates, I have seen how if someone works hard on a piece sharing their opinion, then they too can bring forth their power to public speak. I am so grateful that not only the debate team has shined through this debate history assignment, but I have learned that everyone in our grade can debate as well.
To conclude, I believe my whole class of 2027 has found that when one works hard and perseveres, you can see how much you can achieve, with or without this perk of public speaking.