Cathleen Donahue Neidermayer, left, presents the first-place award to Bentwood College students Amelia Hadfield and Jaylynn Bath who took top prize at the National Debate Championships that were held in Halifax on April 12-15. (Submitted photo)

Brentwood College students win national debate competition

First in college’s 43-year history

Two students from Brentwood College are among the best debaters in Canada.

Amelia Hadfield and Jaylynn Barth took top prize at the National Debate Championships, hosted by Sacred Heart High School in Halifax on April 12-15.

In the 43 years since its inception, Brentwood College has never made it to the top eight in this competition, much less won it.

Hadfield and Barth won the right to compete in the national competition after taking first place at the B.C. Provincial Tournament a month earlier, the first time contenders from Brentwood had done so since noted anthropologist and author Wade Davis and Graham Vink won in 1972.

The National Debate Championships in Halifax included 66 teams from 35 schools from across the country.

These were considered the best teams after competitions that involved more than 1,000 schools.

During the first part of the competition, Hadfield and Barth had to debate whether Britain should leave the European Union.

The students made use of local and international experts via Skype to assist in their research on the topic, totalling more than 50 hours of research during a one-month period prior to the competition.

The rest of the competition dealt with impromptu issues, with 30-minute preparation on complicated topics in religion, politics, philosophy and economics.

After knocking off Nova Scotia in the quarter finals and then Ontario in the semi-finals, Hadfield and Barth beat out another B.C team from Surrey to win the championship for Brentwood College.

Barth has been engrossed in debate for four years in Brentwood’s program, steadily working her way up the ranks from her club in her old school in Alberta, then winning various accolades and awards in five to six public speaking and debate competitions per year with Brentwood.

“Winning the national title only served to remind me that debate is not an activity you can leave in the classroom or at the podium; it follows you into discussions, self-advocacy, the workplace, and truly any cause you find worth defending,” Barth said.

“Words are dangerous and it’s time we started using them to their fullest potential.”

Hadfield sought good debate competition across several different B.C. schools before enrolling in Brentwood two years ago.

She not only took part in debate camps in the summer months, but also takes on a large burden of organizational and competitive roles in Brentwood’s debate program during the school year.

“This is Jaylynn and I’s last competition as partners, and there is no one I would rather share this with,” said Hadfield. “Ironically, winning this made me lost for words. It sounds cheesy, but we were happy just to be there, and genuinely honoured to be debating against such strong competition.”

Debate coach Neil Bryant said both Hadfield and Barth have defied the odds by beating debaters from across the country, many of whom have received private coaching since elementary school, by simply being “incredibly industrious in research, incredibly compelling behind a rostrum, and incredibly well matched intellectually and socially together”.

“They are a wonderful pair of young women who love to win,” he said.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

Drivesmart column: Are we perpetuating mediocrity with how we teach young drivers?

If the teacher is ill equipped to teach, the new driver will not learn what is necessary

Cowichan Valley Public Art Gallery sharing wealth of online art

The CVPAG page will feature new artists and galleries every two weeks

Mary Lowther column: The beauty of Lady Godivas from the garden

So THAT’S where my Lady Godiva pumpkins went!

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Saanich mayor receives his foster bees through pollinator rental program

‘I feel like I’m an adoptive father,’ Fred Haynes says of his rented mason bee colony

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Most Read