News / Calgary

Calgary high school students place in top 20 at Harvard debate championships

The students were given their topics and one hour, without access to any technologies, to prepare for their debates

The Sir Winston Churchill debate team placed 20th at the World Schools Harvard Debate Championships earlier in March. Pictured: Coach Darren Kiziak, Sunint Bindra, Michael Xie, Sharath Sivakumar, Sunand Kannappan and coach Robert Kerr. Not pictured: Akash Uppal

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The Sir Winston Churchill debate team placed 20th at the World Schools Harvard Debate Championships earlier in March. Pictured: Coach Darren Kiziak, Sunint Bindra, Michael Xie, Sharath Sivakumar, Sunand Kannappan and coach Robert Kerr. Not pictured: Akash Uppal

A group of Calgary high school students are thrilled following a positive showing at an international debate competition at the prestigious World Schools Harvard Debate Championships.

Sunint Bindra, a Grade 11 student from Sir Winston Churchill High School, said the experience was everything he could have hoped for, because it brought “the best of the best” to one competition.

“It’s the epitome of the debate world, the Harvard world, and international tournaments,” he said.

The Churchill team, made up of five “heavily-medaled veteran debaters” fared quite well on the international stage—up against he likes of Team USA, Team Mexico, Team Peru and more.

“We placed 20th as a team, and all of our members had very good stats, placing us all in the top 100,” he said, adding that one member didn’t compete in enough rounds to make the cut (but would’ve had he had the opportunity).

Bindra said for weeks in advance the team would prepare after school with their coaches, and at the actual competition they receive their topic and then are given just one hour to prepare.

“We’re not allowed any sort of technologies or tools, it’s just us and our brains,” he said.

Topics included: this house regrets the accelerating democratization of journalism, this house would ban cash, this house would implement a robot tax.

Churchill debate coach, Darren Kiziak, said tournaments like this improve a student’s skills when they come up across “world class debaters.”

Kiziak said encourages other kids to try out debate as it improves critical thinking skills.

“That’s really helpful in the real world and I think it’s a really important skill,” he said. “It also keeps them aware of current events and whats going on and that’s important, too.”

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