Chris Hall stood up straight with his shoulders back and eyes on the audience as he approached the podium to deliver his opening statement at the Jersey Shore Debate Tournament, held at Deane-Porter Elementary School on Saturday, March 11.
Hall, an eighth grader from The Rumson Country Day School, was named “Top Speaker” among the 11 students on the RCDS debate team, which competed against about 50 other students from seven schools in the area.
Students were required to prepare both proposition and opposition arguments for the following topics: A free press is more important than national security; Free tuition for public colleges and universities; Zoos do more harm than good; Ban alcohol advertising. Collectively, the RCDS debate team demonstrated the preparedness and skill to place second in number of wins at the tournament.
According to debate coach Ann Murdock, extracurricular programs such as debate reinforce key components of the school’s mission that stress the importance of confidence, leadership skills, social responsibility, and civic awareness.
“Students are taught to think on their feet and to look at global issues from new perspectives,” Murdock said. “Debate instills countless skills in our students. Public speaking, research, problem solving, and listening skills are just the tip of the iceberg.”
Murdock has been coaching debate since its establishment at RCDS four years ago. She recognizes the program as a positive rising trend among students and at other schools.
Nine out 10 students are collectively involved in extracurricular programs at RCDS. The RCDS debate team will compete with schools on a national level at the Eastern Regional Debate Tournament, to be held in Freehold on May 6.