Debate Season comes to an end
Senior School Debate came to an end the weekend of April 20th with two national tournaments that were both held on the rock in St. John’s, Newfoundland. First, Dieter Frehlich and Zaki Lakhani qualified to compete in Senior Nationals where they had a successful start on the prepared topic. On the second day, the boys ran into tough competition, and despite having strong rounds, were not able to qualify for quarterfinals. We were proud to have a team there because it had been a few years since STS had sent a team to Senior Nationals and we look forward to returning next year when the competition is held in Nova Scotia.
Following the Senior Nationals competition, Team Canada tryouts were held in St. John’s from April 22-24th. The process to qualify for Team Canada began in December when Alberta held their tournament to select three students to represent the province for Team Canada tryouts. Chelli Shapiro, Dieter Frehlich and Zaki Lakhani all attended this tryout. Students debated four rounds of international relations topics, and went through an interview process for selection. All three students were then selected by the Team Canada Committee to attend tryouts in Newfoundland. There were nine open spots for the 2018-2019 Team Canada squad that all the students were competing for. It was a strenuous competition because there were so many rounds of impromptu debate on incredibly difficult topics, and the students had to compete against the best debaters in Canada. Once again, the students were also run through an interview process where the committee was trying to gain a better understanding of the debaters and their character, and passion for debate.
Alberta has not had a representative on this team for three years and we were certainly hopeful that one our students would be able to make the team. It is with tremendous pride, that I say Dieter Frehlich has made the 2018-2019 Team Canada squad. He will be invited to a training camp in Toronto this summer where he will get ready for the upcoming Worlds Debate tournaments. It is unclear yet where Dieter will attend competitions, but there is a possibility that he will compete in the Pan-Americans in Dallas, Texas or he may debate in the European competition in Germany. Senior School World Championships will be held in Sri Lanka in 2019, and there is a possibility that Dieter will compete at that tournament. This is an incredible opportunity for him because he will get debate with, and against, the best debaters in the world. The entire debate program was in a state of jubilation when we heard Dieter was selected to be part of this team. It is an incredible honour to be selected and it says a great deal about how much Dieter has improved as a debater in the past three years. I think Dieter’s selection speaks to his character, his ability to learn and apply feedback, and his excellent logical analysis – I think anyone who has taught him or worked with him would echo this sentiment.
Our entire debate program is really excited for Dieter and the opportunities that are ahead of him. I also think at this point it is worth noting that Dieter was asked by the committee who he admires the most as a debater, and his answer to this question was his debate partner, Zaki Lakhani. This answer says a lot about Dieter’s humility and the strength of Dieter and Zaki’s partnership as debaters. The answer also speaks to the debate program as a whole because of the constant support and learning that we gain from one another. We obviously recognise success and we write about those that succeed, but it is important to also recognise the people who have had an important influence on the club. Despite not making Team Canada, Zaki Lakhani and Chelli Shapiro have both been instrumental to the debate program and its success. Chelli worked with Ms. Westers to ensure that the Junior Debate team was ready for both provincials and nationals, and, as a debater, Chelli is able to pull the best out of those around her. Zaki is an incredible speaker and a fantastic debater who has helped everyone in the club improve their style and way of considering issues. It was a joy travelling with these three students and I look forward to working with them again next year.