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Monday November 7, 2016 at 10:05am Age: 2 yrs
Category: District, High School


Student debates are an eagerly awaited fall tradition in Mr. Bond and Mrs. Rufino’s classes, especially in an election year.  This year’s debates took place the week of Oct. 31-Nov. 4 and were framed around hot-button issues of the Presidential General Election.


In addition to great memories and bragging rights, the research, preparation and presentation surrounding the debates serve important learning objectives and skills development:

  • Locating and evaluating scholarly research sources
  • Establishing a claim and supporting it with evidence
  • Organizing information and using rhetorical strategies and solid logic to present an argument
  • Collaborating in preparing for and conducting debates
  • Communicating clearly and challenging the opposition respectfully
  • Questioning and defending held opinions through the inquiry process
  • Adhering to the guidelines and structure of the formal debate

Topics of this year’s debates included gun control, immigration, domestic surveillance, torture as an interrogation technique, climate change and regulation, labeling and regulation of GMOs, the Affordable Care Act, and the Iran nuclear deal.

Throughout the debates, students showed their passion for and awareness of relevant national the issues, their pride for their English class, and their commitment to learning.



--Danielle Hernández, grade 10: “I believe the process of the debates and the way they were executed are truly beneficial to the English education. Being able to unravel and sift through huge amounts of information to support a certain candidate’s agenda for the presidency enables us to be involved in current and important national news and issues. It was a true eye-opener and hands-on event on topics that were constantly debated throughout the presidential campaign. It was an informative and constructive way for us to understand the debates that affect the choice of our next president.”

--Briana Spina, grade 12: “A lot of kids aren't particularly interested in politics, but everyone was hyped about debate week. I don't know about the other classes, but the period 8 classes were spying on each other and sending each other messages, so the pressure was on. We all wanted to beat the other class, but the sense of competition was actually good. It made students much more passionate about issues that they may not otherwise care about. It also helped us understand what actions we can expect either candidate to take on specific issues when she or he is elected, which is really important because this is our future. Our first experiences away from home will be under a Clinton or Trump presidency. Overall, it's been fun to see the way everyone approaches the debates. I've learned a lot more about both sides of the issues presented, and I understand the differences much better.”

--Ben DiTrocchio, grade 10: “The time during the debates was a fun and enjoyable experience. The tension between the sophomores and the seniors trying to discredit each other’s caused a class war, of sorts, making the debates much more exciting. There was always tension in the air whenever a new debate would start, and it was definitely nerve-wracking having to go up and debate, but I would do it again if given the opportunity.”

--Connor Michael, grade 10: “Recently, in English class we have been debating about controversial political topics. We were put into groups of two and given our topic about which we would debate, either from Clinton's or Trump's viewpoint. This was a new experience for most taking the class. Never before have I had to sit in front of the class to pose arguments and defend my positions. Having to think of a strong response to the opposition's questions under pressure from my peers was an extreme challenge, but debating helped me learn to overcome. Overall, it was a memorable experience, and I would enjoy doing it again.”