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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Hunter students debate with the best

Hunter and Central Coast schools have dominated the prestigious annual NSW Premier’s Debating Challenge, with first and runners up placings.

Callaghan College Waratah’s debating team of four Year 8 students claimed the state champions’ title in the Stage 4 category, while Terrigal Public’s senior outfit finished second in Stage 3 of the knock-out competition.

Waratah’s line-up of Tesla Moore, Rifah Shaeera, Emarehi Okhawere and Chelsea Young were coached by teacher librarian Brody Seferovic and head teacher Jessica Rose.

The quartet defeated Armidale Secondary College in the final, successfully arguing the negative to the motion that “Australia should boycott the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in China”.

The principal of Waratah Campus, Hayley Macdonald, said the end result was testimony to the hard work the students and Ms Seferovic had put in since the first round early in the year.

“Entering the challenge and maintaining momentum through 2020 is a huge commitment,” she added.

“We’re really proud of the team who’ve proved so diligent in their preparation for each debate, and so quick-witted and calm during the actual debates.”

Terrigal’s representatives – Coco Furniss, Abby Peterson-Hampshire, Sophie Semetka and Zoe Smith – lost in a split decision to North Sydney Public School.

They argued the affirmative to the motion that “Primary school classes should swap their teachers around every week instead of having the same teacher all the time”.

The team was coached by teacher James Ridley.

Terrigal Public School’s principal Michael Burgess echoed Ms Macdonald’s sentiment.

“Public speaking is a difficult skill but to combine it with formulating an argument and expressing that coherently on the run is at another level,” he added.

“I can’t commend the team and Mr Ridley highly-enough for their success this term.”